Kenneth Turan's film pick of the week: 'White Material'
With so many worthy Hollywood films coming out every week (this is the awards season, after all), serious filmgoers are understandably focusing their attention on the season's studio releases. So it would be all too easy but a terrible shame to overlook as excellent a foreign-language film as “White Material.”
Simultaneously poetic, dramatic and realistic, this is an altogether stunning work. Directed by Claire Denis and starring Isabelle Huppert in a bravura performance as a woman confronting armed chaos in an unnamed African country, this is filmmaking that is at once exhilarating and chilling, powerful and powerfully disturbing.
Though not a marquee name in this country, French director Denis is so respected internationally that British film journal Sight & Sound declared "there is no better filmmaker working in the world right now."
Having grown up in Africa and used it as the setting for her signature film, "Chocolat," Denis takes us back there again, to a nameless country caught in the brutal, catastrophic struggle between a ruthless regime and a rebel army filled with child soldiers. And though it deals with serious themes and confronts deep personal issues, perhaps the most unexpected thing about "White Material" is that it never forgets to add beauty to the mix.
-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic
Photo: Isabelle Huppert and Christopher Lambert in "White Material." Credit: IFC Film. Bottom photo: Fernando Lujan in "Nora's Will." Credit: Menemsha Films