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Directed by Claire Denis
France 200


In this drama directed and co-written by Claire Denis, Isabelle Huppert plays Maria, a white woman living in an African nation that has been falling into political chaos. Maria owns a coffee plantation, and regards her property as her personal domain; she would rather fight that give up her land, though her stubborn attitude prevents her from admitting that she's putting those close to her in danger.


Isabelle Huppert is superb as Maria, delivering a complex performance that still manages to retain our sympathy even when her stubbornness begins to look like reckless endangerment. There's also strong support from Duvauchelle (whose character arc is both disturbing and horrifying) and it's a treat to see Christophe Lambert in a decent film again.

The film is beautifully shot throughout, with impressive cinematography by Yves Cape and several striking images, such as the scene where the soldiers slowly emerge from the greenery or the shots of Maria standing alone on the dusty road, her white dress billowing around her in the wind. Denis also orchestrates several quietly powerful scenes that unfold differently to the way you might expect from a more traditional version of the same story (such as Hotel Rwanda) but are genuinely haunting and all the more effective for being understated.

Excerpt from Matthew Turner of ViewLondon located HERE


Theatrical Release: September 6th, 2009 - Venice Film Festival

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DVD Review: Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL

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Distribution Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 1:41:12 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.47 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio French/Cameron (Dolby Digital 5.1), French/Cameron (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, None

Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• Interview with Claire Denis and Christophe Lambert (10:01)
• Trailer (1:42)

DVD Release Date: December 6th, 2010

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Chapters: 12



Amazing and impressive film from Claire Denis. Wow. Surprising to many, the director was born in Africa and, as in Beau Travail, she handles it's unaccommodating, barren landscapes so well - integrating it into the story. Calling this a 'thriller' may be accurate but it has some emotional connections that definitely position it in the 'art house' vein. 'Festival queen' Huppert (incredibly 14 films, so far in her career, in official competition at Cannes) is, predictably, nothing short of magnificent. 

The AE transfer is solid - dual-layered, progressive and anamorphic. It is coming to Blu-ray as well on the same release date reviewed HERE, and we expect to review it. Actually this is the exact type of film that would benefit from the advancement to 1080P resolution. There are close-ups and the open terrain figure prominently in the film's visuals. I have no complaints.

Audio gives the option of a 5.1 track and a 2.0 channel stereo - both in the original French with some Cameron language spoken. There is some separations in the mix and the track is clean and clear with audible dialogue supported by optional English subtitles. The DVD is region FREE in the PAL standard.

Supplements consist of a 10-minute interview with Claire Denis and Christophe Lambert plus a trailer. I'd have loved a commentary but I guess it wasn't in the cards.

This is a good story handled incredibly well by both Denis and Huppert. There is a haunting edge that is never overplayed. It touches all the right areas too - with politics, suspense, pride and humanity as key building blocks to the evolution of the film-story. I strongly recommend and can't wait for a second viewing on Blu-ray (now reviewed HERE). See this one. 

Gary W. Tooze


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