With White Material (2009), French director Claire Denis has done an intelligent and provocative job of presenting the human inability to see things as they really are. Isabelle Huppert’s Maria, a white woman in Africa, is deluded about the danger posed by ferocious civil-war fighters. Her indolent son (Nicolas Duvauchelle) responds to the conflict by becoming a gun-toting troublemaker—much to his peril. In the realm they live in, human life could not be cheaper; no one can afford to be blind.
Denis’s film has a nervous energy and a real punch to it. It’s candid. If it had an MPAA rating it would probably be NC-17 because it briefly shows an actor’s impressive penis.
(In French with English subtitles)