Review: Au nom de la terre (2019)

Au nom de la terre (2019)

Directed by: Edouard Bergeon | 103 minutes | drama | Actors: Guillaume Canet, Veerle Baetens, Anthony Bajon, Rufus, Samir Guesmi, Yona Kervern, Solal Forte, Raffin Melanie, Marie-Christine Orry, Emmanuel Courcol, Michel Lerousseau, Charlie Costillas, Christophe Rossignon, Elodie Godart, Eric Brulé, Gilles Kneusé , Baptiste Gardennec, Hervé Mahieux, Clément Vinette, Pierre Gondard

A shocking and unprecedented fact is that every other day a French farmer sees no other way out than suicide. Director Edouard Bergeon – as an experience expert – continues to respond to this and he made a second heartbreaking tribute to his father Christian with ‘Au nom de la terre’. He was a farmer and saw his beloved business slowly fade away thanks to European regulations, falling prices and strangulation contracts with cooperatives. He was only 45 years old.

Proud and at the same time unsure, the engaged Pierre and Claire Jarjeau sit at the notary. They take over the sheep farm from his father Jacques. Jacques knows what they are signing for and asks his son if he is sure. Being a farmer is not an easy life, but Pierre is determined to carry on the tradition. In the years that follow he exchanges the sheep for goats and runs the beautifully situated farm together with the help of servant Mehdi and his teenage son Thomas, who is studying to be an agricultural engineer.

In addition to her own job and household, Claire takes care of the bookkeeping of livestock farming and she discovers the harsh reality of a farming life. The farm is not profitable and the debts are increasing. In order to earn more income, the hard-working Pierre relents when an advisor advises him to place a hypermodern mega chicken barn next to the goats. It is difficult for the doubting farmer to be bound by the regulations and feed policy of the European Union. Jacques thinks it is a sign of weakness and is strongly against it. Thanks to the takeover, the former sheep farmer is feeling well, but refuses to help his son financially. In turn, Pierre is also too proud to ask his old father for money and the pressure on the family increases.

Claire sees her once-vibrant husband and father of Thomas and Emma turn into a depressed, rigid man who begins to close himself off for life. Smoking has become a new passion, as has days unwashed in bed and Claire’s patience is running out, but she remains strong.

Pierre thinks wistfully back to Wyoming, America. He was a young carefree cowboy on a large, thriving farm. Mental movies play in his head of a young guy with a tanned skin who leisurely rides around on one of the horses to keep the goat herd together. But it is no longer possible to keep it together. Pierre has lost contact with his family, his animals and with himself. This reality is like a heavy musty blanket over him. Thanks to his money worries, wounded pride and government pressure, there is nothing left but despair and an all-consuming sense of failure.

That actor Guillaume Canet looks like father Christian like two drops of water will not always have been easy for Edouard during the recordings. Veerle Baetens (‘Broken Circle Breakdown’) stands as an indestructible pillar in the middle of the story and keeps everyone together as long as they can.

After the documentary ‘Les fils de la terre’ from 2012, Edouard – now seven years later – opens the farmer’s cesspool again. He once again presses our face into the reality of today’s farmers. A message that hopefully draws attention to a decent livelihood for farmers. Whether the European Union has watched from their ivory tower remains to be seen. In any case, ‘Au nom de la terre’ is a moving portrait of his father’s saga and so many with him who see the same fate looming on the horizon.

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