REVIEW / FILM OPINION – In “La Terre des hommes”, Diane Rouxel plays a farmer in financial difficulty, victim of the influence of a large farmer. A complex character, superbly interpreted, and whose fight wins the viewer.
The Land of Men : an impossible dilemma
Second feature film by Naël Marandin after The Walker, The Land of Men immerses the spectator in the exploitation of Bernard, a breeder embodied by Olivier Gourmet. While on the verge of bankruptcy, his daughter Constance (Diane Rouxel) and his son-in-law Bruno (Finnegan Oldfield) are aiming to take over the family farm.
Wishing to turn to a more responsible mode of production, the couple put together a financial plan that would allow them to position themselves facing large farmers. To build a solid case, Constance seeks advice from one of them, Sylvain (Jalil Lespert). Passing through the latter’s office to talk about the negotiations, the young woman is raped.
Constance then finds herself in spite of herself faced with an impossible dilemma: to testify and unjustly renounce her project, or to remain silent and continue to suffer Sylvain’s influence. Trapped in this situation and faced with deaf violence, she gradually sees the doors closing, in addition to accepting the judgments of other farmers.
Alone against the world
The Land of Men begins with a long traveling in a cattle market. A representative framework power struggles evoked throughout the feature film. During this introduction, Constance is immediately locked into this masculine universe but appears serene, despite the financial fragility her family faces. From the checkpoint, Sylvain asserts his authority straight away, while Bernard is marked by concern.
Naël Marandin built several sequences around these sales during the film, including during the finale. They become so markers of the evolution of the characters, as the sufferings and difficulties are reinforced, or reversed.
In these scenes, the camera adopts the gaze of Constance, a striking protagonist and superbly interpreted by Diane Rouxel. Completely isolated after the rape and in the grip of a guilt that never touches her attacker, she can only rely on her convictions. Only his determination and courage allow him to extricate himself from oppressive moments. This is for example the case when colleagues lock him in an enclosure while they do not take his version seriously, but also when Sylvain bursts into his life, casually. In the role of the culprit persuaded to be a victim, Jalil Lespert is also perfect.
An overwhelming system
The Land of Men so wear a sharp look on an ultra competitive sector, portrayed without complacency and exacerbated sentimentalism. Nevertheless, the feature film has no pretension to make an inventory of the French agricultural sector. He focuses above all on the way in which this small farmer tries not to be drowned by big fish, and this despite the abuse she suffers. This treatment reinforces the emotional power of Constance’s journey, who gradually regains her combativeness without ever losing her integrity. To get her head out of the water and last, she and her companion, however, have no other choice but to give up the slightest scruples.
The outcome of the film happens elsewhere as the denouement of a thriller where only their cunning counts. The trajectory of the young woman and her struggle, as well as her relations with those close to her, lead to a poignant conclusion, which imposes her as a true heroine, as was the character played by Sally Field in Seasons of the Heart. Current, touching and based on a solid narrative construction, The Land of Men is a great success.
The Land of Men by Naël Marandin, released on 25 August 2021. Above the trailer. Find all our trailers here.