Fresh from its “Women Make History” screening at the 22nd COLCOA French Film Festival in Hollywood last month arrives in select theaters, “The Guardians.” Written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Xavier Beauvois (“Of Gods and Men”), “The Guardians” examines World War I from a different lens – that of the women left to guard the home front. Set in the French countryside, the film follows the women of the Paridier Farm as they learn to successfully grow and harvest crops while investing in the future, which was once solely the domain of the men.

Acclaimed actresses shine as ‘The Guardians’

French cinema’s renowned Nathalie Baye (Truffaut’s “Day For Night,” “The Return of Martin Guerre”) stars as the family matriarch, Hortense. Disciplined, intelligent, and hardworking, Hortense along with her daughter, Solange (Laura Smet, Baye’s real-life daughter) manage their large family farm as both Hortense’s two sons and son-in-law are fighting the Germans on the French front. Since able-bodied men have all been called to war, Hortense hires extra help in terms of teenage orphan Francine (newcomer Iris Bry).

Hard working, friendly, and equally disciplined, Francine is dedicated to her tasks and her new “family.” Appreciating such a strong work ethic, Hortense keeps Francine employed long after the harvest.

Francine herself shines via her meaningful work as one of the guardians of the land. Soon the youngest of Hortense’s son, Georges (Cyril Descours), home on leave, takes notice of his mother’s new employee.

Life goes on even during the Great War for ‘The Guardians’

Happiness, loneliness, misconstrued actions, and revenge dramatically play out for each of the three women.

Although they will weather the waning days of the Great War, nothing will ever be the same for the women or men who return with broken bodies or spirits. But Francine, perhaps the most resilient of all, carries on with the life she has been dealt, and at times, even with a smile on her face.

‘The Guardians’ a festival and award favorite

Having a strong run on the film festival circuit (COLCOA, Toronto International Film Festival, BFI London), “The Guardians” has also been honored in its home country with four Cesar Award nominations (France’s equivalent of Oscar). The nominations were for Best New Actress (Iris Bry), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematographer for Caroline Champetier’s gorgeous yet naturalist work, and Best Costumes. As “The Guardians” unspools in the US, cinema enthusiasts would do well to put this film on their viewing schedule.

The Guardians” is 134 minutes, Rated R and with English subtitles.