The Guardians (Les Gardiennes) (2018)


Critic Consensus: The Guardians proves that the oft-unraveled canvas of World War I still has fresh stories to tell -- and adds another gorgeously filmed entry to Xavier Beauvois' filmography.


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An affecting human drama of love, loss, and resilience unfolds against the backdrop of World War I. The women of the Paridier farm, under the deft hand of Hortense, the family's matriarch (Nathalie Baye,) must grapple with the workload while the men, including two sons, are off at the front. Hortense reluctantly brings on an outsider, the hard-scrabble teenage orphan, Francine (Iris Bry), to help her daughter Solange (Laura Smet). New tools allow the women to triumph over the land, newfound independence is acquired, yet emotions are stirred especially when the men return from the front on short leaves. Acclaimed filmmaker Xavier Beauvois (Of Gods and Men) revels in the mysteries and beauties of the French countryside, here unravaged by war, with painterly images bathed in natural light, yet keeps his focus on the intricate drama that plays out against the upheaval of the Great War.

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Nathalie Baye
as Hortense Sandrail
Iris Bry
as Francine Riant
Laura Smet
as Solange
Cyril Descours
as Georges Sandrail
Nicolas Giraud
as Constant Sandrail
Mathilde Viseux
as Marguerite
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Critic Reviews for The Guardians (Les Gardiennes)

All Critics (52) | Top Critics (11)

Like the cinematic equivalent of slow food, "The Guardians" is a rich, simmering cassoulet of a film, one that asks viewers to adjust their metabolisms accordingly.

Jun 20, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Presents the dailiness of farm life through its seasons with an unhurried grace.

May 18, 2018 | Rating: A | Full Review…

The performances are extraordinary, as they often are in Beauvois' films, with Baye a study in quiet suffering and Bry wonderfully enigmatic - seemingly simple, but hinting at a soul capable of expansion and adaptation.

May 14, 2018 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Elegantly made and quietly emotional, a family story filled with characters whose lives we sink into, feeling the hope, the sadness, the sorrow and the joy right along with those on the screen.

May 9, 2018 | Full Review…

Imagine devoting several years, as Mr. Beauvois did, to making a reflective, bucolic feature that is organized around the themes of community and evolving culture. It's all too subtle for words, but perfect for moving pictures.

May 8, 2018 | Full Review…

Like a series of Monet paintings come to life, the historical drama The Guardians luxuriates in lush, widescreen images of the French countryside.

May 4, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

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