Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: WHITE MATERIAL

J.C. De Leon

by: J.C. De Leon
April 14th, 2011

The award-winning drama directed and co-written by Claire Denis starring Isabelle Huppert who plays Maria, a white French expatriate living in an African nation that has fallen into political chaos, has gotten the Criterion treatment in WHITE MATERIAL.

Maria owns a coffee plantation, and will protect her domain no matter the cost. What she doesn’t realize is that her stubborn attitude prevents her from admitting that she's putting those close to her in danger, or even acknowledging the gravity of her situation. Her former husband André (Christopher Lambert) is trying desperately to convince her to flee where he has arranged for safe passage to Europe, but Maria insists that the military will protect her and the others in the area, a belief that seems to be fueled by arrogance rather than fact. 

WHITE MATERIAL received its North American premiere at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival and is the recipient of the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival.

Methodically paced, beautifully shot, and impeccably acted, WHITE MATERIALis a film that belongs in any Criterion Collection fan's bookshelf. It would have been nice to have included some more extras, but what’s on the disc is, at the very least, thorough. The official list of extras includes:

Interviews - three interviews recorded exclusively for Criterion in 2010.

-- Claire Denis - In French, with optional English subtitles. (25 min).

-- Isabelle Huppert - In French, with optional English subtitles. (15 min).

-- Isaach de Bankole - In English, not subtitled. (14 min).

Deleted Scene - Maria returns to the plantation to find her ex-husband, Andre, murdered. In French, with optional English subtitles. (3 min).

Ecrans Noirs Film Festival, 2010 - a short film documenting director Claire Denis' return to Cameroon for the 2010 premiere of White Material at the Ecrans Noirs Film Festival. In French, with optional English subtitles. (13 min).

Trailer - the original theatrical trailer for White Material. In French, with optional English subtitles. (2 min)

Booklet - an illustrated booklet featuring a new essay by film writer Amy Taubin.

A quiet, yet powerfully moving, movie that feature some disturbing images starring an incredibly powerful character, it has Criterion written all over it and for good reason. A purchase comes highly recommended, especially for those who are fans of Claire Denis’ previous works.

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