The film's title suggests it has something to say about race. Anyone who has seen 'Chocolat' will expect the sensitive topic to be handled by the director with power, insight and through fully formed characters. However this film seems to be the other's antithesis.
The barbarity of the final scenes are as shocking as the barbarity of the thinking behind them. Their implication is that the anti-heroine and her son have (a little like Kurtz in Conrad's novel 'Heart of Darkness') become as 'savage' as 'the Africans'. The charge of racism can't be avoided by showing that within all 'White Europeans' is an 'African Savage' waiting to escape - this simply compounds the fundamental problem that the film has. Denis may think she is undermining stereotypes but the entire film only reinforces them.
For me it is an inescapable flaw. Where 'Chocolat' tried to say too much this says too little and says it incoherently. There is exceptionally good cimematography in parts (which creates the film's incredible sense of brooding violence and scenes of it's horrific realisation). Yet it is all built on such an offensively banal depiction of 'Africa' that it only works if you aren't offended by it.
It portrays Africa in an essentialist way and only as a one-dimensional brooding threat to the multi-dimensional 'White' characters. Its plot is a tragedy in the classical sense but the lack of any consideration that Black people, people who think about racial discrimination or even(?!)African's might watch it is just tragic.
This film ironically portrays an Africa only valid as a backdrop for 'White (only) Material'.