White Material


White Material

Critics Consensus

Isabelle Huppert is an immoveable object surrounded by unstoppable forces in White Material, an incendiary character study and political thriller that showcases director Claire Denis' expertise in ratcheting tension.



Total Count: 89


Audience Score

User Ratings: 11,164
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Movie Info

From Claire Denis, the incomparable director of BEAU TRAVAIL, L'INTRUS and 35 SHOTS OF RHUM, comes WHITE MATERIAL: a rich and thrilling account of a woman driven to the edge. An official selection of the Venice, Toronto and New York Film Festivals, the film is a riveting exploration of the complexities of racial conflict and the limits of human will. The legendary Isabelle Huppert (LA CEREMONIE, THE PIANO TEACHER, 8 WOMEN), is Maria Vial, a fearless French woman attempting to run her family's coffee plantation in an unnamed African country. Torn violently apart by hate-fueled civil conflict, this unforgiving setting soon turns against the foreign family, declaring them outlaws in their new home. In a brash effort to save her family and livelihood, Maria risks everything, fighting with every shred of her will to buck the rebel forces wrestling for control of local power. -- (C) IFC


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Critic Reviews for White Material

All Critics (89) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (77) | Rotten (12)

  • A maddening movie that gives the viewer plenty to think about, but little to care about.

    Apr 14, 2011 | Full Review…

    William Goss

    Top Critic
  • White Material is unhurried in its storytelling but unshakable in its impact.

    Jan 31, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • A thoughtful, if sometimes frustrating, tale of a Frenchwoman caught in the middle of a civil war in an unidentified African country.

    Jan 14, 2011 | Rating: 3/5
  • A poignant, haunting study of well-intentioned but doomed folly, embodied by a heroine whose bravery renders her blind to the world that is crumbling around her.

    Jan 6, 2011 | Rating: 3/4
  • It's one of those movies where questions like "Why didn't they do that?" or "Wait, what's their relationship?" keep popping up. And for the most part, those questions never get answered.

    Dec 17, 2010 | Rating: C- | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • This haunting drama by Claire Denis burns with a mute fear and rage at the ongoing atrocities in central Africa.

    Dec 17, 2010 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for White Material

  • Oct 21, 2015
    A thought-provoking political commentary in which Denis sets out to examine the white colonialist abuse and its consequences in a French-speaking African country, even if it doesn't feel so well finished, especially when it comes to Manuel's erratic (and puzzling) actions.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 30, 2012
    Another great film put out by IFC films about a French women who will not give up, Isabelle Huppert plays the part of a coffee plantation owner in a African country trying to get the coffee crop in before it ruins. Trouble within the country between the Rebels and the military over running the country is now a prime factor that the French military has pulled out. Her number one problem is she is White (White Material as know to the Blacks), her second problem is her worthless husband. The cast of this film is that of Actors from outside the US which IFC is famous for and helps add to the overall enjoyment of this film. An outstanding film that deals with the facts of today. 4 1/2 stars
    Bruce B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 21, 2011
    a powerful performance by isabelle huppert and an atmosphere of palpable dread in the dark heart of post colonial africa
    Stella D Super Reviewer
  • Jan 02, 2011
    Fearless, superlative, slow building and gut-punching drama with a powerful performance from Isabelle Huppert. This astonishing film concerning the "legacy" of colonialism has innumerable memorable sequences and points of view; it is a truly original and riveting work from the inimitable Claire Denis.
    Daniel P Super Reviewer

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