“The Land of Men”, a mouse and men

The Land of Men **

by Naël Marandin

French film, 1 h 36

Daughter of a farmer, Constance wants to take over, with her fiancé, the family farm on the verge of bankruptcy. His father, victim of old methods, remains braced on his habits, offended by the new directions his daughter wants to implement: expand, invest and stand up to the “big”, scavengers of distress, who buy for a bite. bread for failing farms.

→ LARGE FORMAT. When the children take over the family farm

One of the influential local players, Sylvain, won over by his project, agrees to support Constance. He claims to lend him a hand, want to push his case, despite local opposition, and put all his power in the balance. But, without her seeing it coming, he imposes the law of his desire on her and violates her one evening when she feels confident. Murdered, she chooses silence, smolders her shame, before rebelling.

On the drama of the peasants and the pitfall of family takeovers, several films have been made in recent years (including In the name of the earth by Édouard Bergeon, son of a farmer, on the tragic drift and suicide of his father). Naël Marandin approaches it from an original angle. He mixes the reality of operators in perdition, caught in a noose, vultures on the lookout, with a question that is too little raised, the place of women and male domination, by injecting it with subtlety. The rapist in his film is not a predator but a complex, realistic and calculating man, understanding and manipulative, sure of himself and at bay.

A knot of tension around a straight and dignified young woman

When Constance decides to appeal to justice, then to confront Sylvain on her own ground, that of power, she finds herself ostracized, rejected, humiliated by this world of men who do not tolerate her falling out of rank and can accuse one of their own.

This knot of tensions, around this young woman, upright and dignified, is one of the strengths of this film, harsh and endearing by the humanity of all the characters, locked in a dark universe. Behind the scenes of the cattle market, the maneuvers of the horse dealers in their kingdom, opaque and arbitrary, seal troubled games to sink or save a peasant in difficulty.

The Land of Men is irradiated by the presence on the screen of Diane Rouxel who, with a glance, a silence, gives a striking depth, of rage and fragility, to the character of Constance, stubborn and vacillating. It radiates a dark glow, illuminating the play of a trio of actors, beautifully distributed (Olivier Gourmet, Jalil Lespert and Finnegan Oldfield), which brings the right note in all situations. A beautiful film on a too forgotten world.


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