The White Masai Hermine Huntgeburth

Words fail to describe this film, a seething mass of cross-purposes and misunderstood motives that never jells into a coherent position.

Adapting a memoir by Corinne Hoffmann, it tells the story of young Carola (Nina Hoss), who while visiting Kenya with her fiancé is beguiled by a Masai warrior named Lemalian, so much so that she blows off the fiancé, hikes to Lemalian’s village and declares to him her undying love.

Of course, she has to get used to the local customs (like female circumcision), teach her new man the tender way to love and deal with the disapproval of her family. But when you’ve got whatever it is they have you can overcome any obstacle, right? Well, no, but then these two impulsive people (at least as they’re represented here) are never witnessed using their heads or thinking things through before acting.

The filmmakers seem to think everything’s lovely and romantic at first, and seem to censure the naysayers at home who say it can’t work, then they shift gears and blame Lemalian for everything going wrong when any living being with half a brain could have seen it coming a mile off. This schizoid approach makes for something unique, granted, but not in a good way; it’s so unaware of what it’s representing that it winds up feeling creepy and unpleasant.

This was the German submission to the Academy Awards this year and it’s the kind of thing that could easily be made to seem profound to people who can take movies at face value without question. But anyone who thinks about it for a second will be alienated by its haphazard and irresponsible approach to the story being told. (Mongrel Media)