The Guardians (Fra). Les Gardiennes

The Guardians (Fra).

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A superbly involving French rural drama from Xavier Beauvois, with Nathalie Baye magnificent as a matriarch struggling to run the land when war breaks out.

Beauvois (‘Of Gods and Men’) reveals the heroic struggles of women on the rural home front in First World War France, in a gripping, terrifically acted ensemble drama. The ‘Gardiennes’ of the title are the women who roll up their sleeves to take charge of the land when war breaks out. Nathalie Baye, in the role of a lifetime, is utterly commanding as Hortense, the matriarch who will do anything to ensure that family and farm survive, as the men of the family make intermittent returns from the front, and the arrival of American troops brings its own unrest. Caroline Champetier’s magnificent landscape photography brings an elemental touch to the realism that gives this film the intensity of a French-style Thomas Hardy. (Subtitles)