Les Gardiennes

(The Guardians)

By the director of Of Gods And Men

Director Xavier Beauvois (Of Gods And Men) is back with Les Gardiennes, a beautifully crafted production which tells the story of the women left behind in rural France after the majority of fighting-age men were conscripted to fight in WWI. In a simply told and beautifully conveyed account of the devastating events which will eventually lead to the emancipation of women throughout Europe, Beauvois offers an alternative war movie, one where the fight takes place at home rather than on the battlefield.

Poster for the feminist drama Les GardiennesAdapted from Ernest Perochon’s 1944 novel, Les Gardiennes spans two years in the lives of the women who inhabit Le Paridier, a family-owned farm run by Hortense (Natalie Baye), a resilient matriarch trying to make ends meet in the absence of her husband and two sons, and her daughter Solange (Laura Smet), whose husband is also away at war. 

In need of some help as the harvest approaches, Hortense hires young farm-hand Francine (played beautifully by Iris Bry). When Francine proves to be more than capable and even indispensable to her new employer, the matriarch agrees to keep her on indefinitely. Saving every penny she earns and taking responsibility for her own destiny, Francine comes to symbolize female emancipation and strong will. Things take a turn, however, when Hortense’s younger son Georges (Cyril Descours) returns home on leave and starts a secret courtship with Francine. 

Les Gardiennes is a stunning production, which manages to thrill and move its audience beyond all expectation. Beauvois is faultless in his ability to recreate the past, down to the last thread of every costume and every piece of equipment used on the farm. A genuinely astounding piece of filmmaking, which is as beautiful as it is essential.

– Linda Marric, HeyUGuys

Histoire de femmes dans la campagne française, en cette année 1915 où les hommes sont à la guerre et parfois n’en reviennent plus. Hortense (Nathalie Baye) a deux fils et un gendre au front. Sa fille (Laura Smet) travaille dur avec elle à la ferme vidée de ses forces viriles.

Arrive une jeune pupille de la nation, Francine (Iris Bry, la révélation du film) qui pleine de bonne volonté et de courage, aide aux moissons, à la lessive, au labour et aux mille tâches qui accaparent cette France rurale. Mais quelque soit la gratitude d’Hortense, arrive un moment où Francine est de trop et le film, jusque-là contemplatif, plein de sa beauté champêtre, se mue en tragédie expiatoire. Terre retournée sur ses secrets, sillons creusés comme les tranchées qui ensevelissent les soldats, lumières fauves des paysages : Xavier Beauvois réalise une œuvre inspirée qui chante mezzo voce le courage des femmes dans un monde de brutes.

– Sophie Avon, Sud-ouest

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