White Material is the latest post-colonial African narrative (do you remember when films of this nature were so en Vogue you couldn't move for the awards given to the likes of Hotel Rwanda, Blood Diamond and Last King of Scotland??) to be delivered from the imagination of Claire Denis, who according to the Guardian is "a poet of mood and movement". It's not difficult to see why such an accolade would be bestowed upon the writer and director who seems to have a fascination with documenting the breakdown of social order in a variety of both named and unnamed African countries (the location for White Material falls into the latter category). You know what they say, stick to what you know. The film is tense without relying on the usual techniques one might expect to find in the handling of the subject matter; allowing the viewer to feel what the protagonist, Maria Vial (played excellently by Isabelle Hupert) is experiencing rather than ramming the political message down our throats.
I won't say much more about the film, because everything there is to say has been said much more eloquently by seasoned professionals, and would never capture the raw brilliance of the piece. It's currently showing at Brixton's Ritzy, Cambridge Picturehouse and Edinburgh's Cameo Picturehouse, among others I'm sure. The film isn't for everyone, (those of you who're too lazy to read subtitles for one...) but it's one of the most sophisticated and credible films of its kind. Go see it.