France 1915. The impact of the First World War is being felt across Europe as conscription forces the men to leave their homes for the battlefield. Hortense, realising she has to hold up her family's farm with less than half the labour force hires a helping hand, Francine. The young woman works hard and, with the arrival of Hortense's son Georges, finally feels she has a place she can call home. As the battle rages on, these women unite to keep both their family and society from collapsing.
The spirit of Thomas Hardy lives on in this quietly epic tale of love and continuity in rural France during the First World War.
The cinematography is brilliant, with scene after scene capturing the feel of the best French landscape painting. This is supported by careful attention to detail in the hard farm work that provides a constant backdrop.
After all the WW1 commemorations of the last 4 years, it is refreshing to see a film about the lives of the women who kept things going back home.
The dream sequence which shows shooting and killing is the least effective in portraying the horror of war. The reality of war is reflected in the lives of the people left behind, they can do nothing but wait and wait and quite often despair.
The three leading actors at the heart of the drama, Nathalie Baye, Laura Smet and in particular Iris Brey are outstanding.
The film is suffused with powerful acting and is beautifully shot.