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1915. Life at the Paridier farm has changed dramatically since the men of the family (Constant, Georges and Clovis) left home to go and fight on the front line. Hortense Sandrail, Henri and Constant's mother and Clovis' mother-in-law, has taken over courageously but, although helped by her daughter Solange, she finds it hard to get by with all the workload. When harvest time comes, she makes up her mind to hire a farmhand but she is too late and no man is available. The mayor then recommends her an orphan named Francine Riant, who could do. Hortense agrees and the choice soon appears a blessing, as the girl proves perfect: well-mannered and respectful, she is also a hard worker who does not balk at any task. Hortense, Solange and her form an effective trio, who make the most of the situation. One day, Georges comes back to the farm on leave and he falls in love with Francine.Written by
Strong dramatic film about French Civilians in WWI
The French movie Les Gardiennes (2017) was shown in the U.S. with the translated title The Guardians. It was co-written and directed by Xavier Beauvois . It stars Iris Bry as Francine, an orphan who works at a family farm while the men are at the front in WWI. Nathalie Baye portrays Hortense, a farm matriarch with two sons and a son-in-law away at war. Laura Smet plays Solange, Hortense's daughter. (She actually is Baye's daughter.)
This movie is brilliant in its portrayal of the hard physical labor demanded of farmworkers--male or female--a century ago. Their men suffered terribly in the trenches, but keeping the farm going wasn't a bed of roses.
One interesting theme of the film is that the war demanded machines of war. Some of these machines had civilian utility. When the war begins, horses and oxen pulled the plow. By the end of the war, a tractor would replace them.
The acting in the movie was superb throughout. However, in my opinion, acting honors go to Natalie Baye. Baye was almost 70 when she played this role. When she was young, she was the darling of the French New Wave directors. Her acting skills are obviously intact, and she carries off her role superbly.
We saw this movie at Rochester's excellent Little Theatre. It will work almost as well on the small screen. This movie has an adequate 7.1 IMDb rating. but I think it's much better than that. Don't miss it!
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