The Guardians: Women and Old People [Critique]

Xavier Beauvois signs a pretty rural chronicle against the backdrop of the First World War.

Arte will broadcast tonight The Guardiansby Xavier Beauvois. First recommend it to you.

By coincidence of the calendar, three weeks apart, two films are released which deal with more or less the same subject: the replacement in the fields of men by their wives and daughters. In The Sower by Marine Francen (released November 15), the action takes place in 1852: all the men in a village, suspected of being Republicans, are victims of a raid. In The Guardians, sixty-three years later, in the middle of the First World War, they are at the front. Faced with the shortage of labour, women ensure both the harvests and the survival of the farm. In both cases, the naturalism is pushed to the extreme with long sequences where the actresses mow, collect, dig furrows, sow, while registering in very composed frames with solar photography, inspired by Millet.

Nathalie Baye and her daughter reunited for Les Gardiennes, Laura Smet tells us

aesthetic breath

At Beauvois, the cinematographer Caroline Champetier conveys through images the monotonous (almost monochrome) beauty of repeated gestures, which gives the film its finest impressionistic moments. However, the director does not quite manage to reproduce the miracle of Men and gods where the metaphysical (the invisible) infused the narrative for the better. Here, Beauvois seems torn between his desire for evocation and the necessities of history, that of Francine, a courageous orphan placed with an inflexible boss. Through its aesthetic breadth and the power of its performers (Nathalie Baye at the top), The Guardians turns out to be a fine piece of cinema, however.

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