Back to IndieWire

White Material

Amid the tumult of helicopters urging French nationals to flee for their safety and well-being, a French family struggles to save its coffee plantation. Pulled in competing directions, confused by the pace of events that unfold both within their compound and out on the streets of the neighbouring village, they have been labelled “white material,” and local radio stations warn that their day is over. Surrounded by the violence and chaos of civil war, they find themselves virtually powerless against the forces of history that swirl around them. With this threat of impending disaster as a backdrop, Denis uses her significant skill to tell the story of Maria (Isabelle Huppert), manager of the Café Vial plantation, who fights desperately to keep her life and business together. With her ex-husband at her side and her son violently propelled into the action, Maria must draw on all her resources to survive. At the same time, a legendary black hero, the Boxer (Isaach De Bankolé), also finds that his world has been turned upside down. Inevitably, the two are fated to meet. [Synopsis courtesy of TIFF]