I just saw this 2-year-old film at the Seattle International Film Festival, as a substitute for a scheduled Czech film (Brats) which arrived with missing reels, and was glad to have seen it, since a movie like this is very unlikely to go into US distribution. I won't repeat points that have already been made here several times, other than to say that this is very much in the European humanist tradition, with actors whose faces are beleivable and have character rather than formuaic good looks, and a plot centered on real life. The very scenic setting is also one of the film's great strengths.
This film indirectly helped me to understand the motivation of periodically striking French farmers, and the hold that this way of life can have on Europeans, where farming is not as easy, as industrialized, or as large-scale as it is in much of America.
Unfortunately, the script doesn't probe quite as deeply as it might, and
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there is a silly recurring bit of gratuitous and vague symbolism in the form of a para-sailer that leads nowhere, and acts mainly as eye-candy. The same can be said about the unnecessarily virtuosic (and at times vertiginous) long opening shot. I'm undecided about the scenes of violence to animals. Yes, living things were harmed -- killed, really -- in the making of this movie, and it could have been made without those acts, but such things are a common and unavoidable part of farm life, and lend reality to a sometimes romanticized portrayal of agricultural existence. On balance, I think this depiction is legitimate, and the scene with the cows may have been pre-existing footage. (It was definitely stock-footage, in a manner of speaking.)
END OF SPOILERS
Not a great or major piece of cinema, but a worthy minor human document, with especially fine acting by the heroine and the two old farmers.
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