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Status: Completed

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Short synopsis

Isabelle Huppert and Christophe Lambert lead an astonishing cast in this African-set first action drama from redoubtable French auteur Claire Denis (“Beau Travail”). A film of extraordinary beauty and devastating power.

Long synopsis

A contemporary story set in an unnamed African country torn by a rebellion. In a rural province, birthplace of one of the rebel chiefs, Maria, a fierce and fearless white woman, refuses to abandon her coffee crops, or to acknowledge the danger to which she is exposing her family. For Maria, to leave is to surrender: a sign of weakness, of cowardice.

On this plantation which has already supported three generations of whites, André – her ex-husband and father of their teenage son – is frightened by her blind, stubborn pride. Without her knowing, he resolves to arrange the family’s escape to France. The crops no longer mean anything to him. He has married again, a young African woman with whom he has a son, and for them, he will stop at nothing. Not even at betraying Maria by placing her destiny in the hands of the local mayor, a man he believes to be his friend.

André is not aware, is not even capable of imagining that the mayor is involved in the conflict, that he opposes the rebels and that he has more on his mind than saving this poor, drifting white family, entirely cut off from the reality of the country. Neither Maria nor André suspects that their home, that the plantation itself, is the refuge for a rebel officer, a desperate man with a heavy price on his head. Nor that a small army of lawless child soldiers is hiding in the dense jungle that surrounds them on all sides.