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During World War II, the organisation "The Women's Land Army" recruited women to work on British farms while the men were off to war. Three such "land girls" of different social backgrounds - quiet Stella, young hairdresser Prue, and Cambridge graduate Ag - become best friends in spite of their different backgrounds. Written by
The Reverend Alan Bennett, seen conducting the christening near the end of the film, is the actual Rector of the church where the scene was filmed. See more »
In the shot of the train approaching the farmer's son standing on the line, a British Railways insignia is visible on one of the coaches. This was not used until the railways were nationalised in 1948. See more »
[Ag points towards the barn]
And where's Joe?
[Ag points towards the barn again]
I should have known.
See more »
Another very good example of an understated British flick being elevated by a strong cast into something worth notice. In a refreshing take on the WWII drama, the focus is on the ones who stayed behind in the war-torn south of England, like the farmers to feed the impoverished nation; the women to keep the factories running and, as in "The Land Girls", to work the land in place of the absent men.
Stephen Mackintosh, my favourite underrated Brit actor, gives the film's best performance as Joe, the farmer's son who wishes he was anywhere but home, but he's well supported by Catherine McCormack, Rachel Weisz and Anna Friel as the unfeasibly but mercifully smouldering girls of the Women's Land Army. Tom Georgeson brings gruff character as Mr Lawrence, the farmer, and check out an early Paul Bettany appearance.
Thousands of women found a new freedom in work during the War, but they were expected to return to their domestic, invisible lives once the men returned. "The Land Girls" is not cinema verité; and doesn't pretend to tackle the grimness my mother talks of in England in the 40s and 50s. But who cares? when I want grim I'll watch a documentary; I'll settle back happily any day to watch fine actors in a quiet, 'little' film with gorgeous Dorset scenery (it really is that beautiful, visit if you can) and a tender story.
It will be too slow, too uneventful, for some. Perhaps they'd have preferred a blowsy Hollywood version, where Antonio Banderas plays the farmer's son and Renee Zellwegger the upper crust beauty (hooray for the ghost of a UK film industry). But I found it gentle and charming just as it was; and when the ingredients are so fine to begin with, that's good enough for me. If you like this sort of thing I recommend Powell & Pressburger's magical "Canterbury Tale".
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