Dir. Amit Gupta, UK/Germany, 2011, Dur. 92 mins
Review by Carlie Newman
Gupta’s film is set in an alternative Britain in 1945, imagined as being under Nazi occupation. 26 year-old Sarah Lewis, a farmer’s wife, wakes up one morning in her home in a small Welsh valley to find her husband has left in the night without even saying goodbye. Later that morning she finds that all the men in the valley have disappeared. The women believe that the men have left to join the Resistance and that they will be back soon.
Before they can find out exactly where their husbands and sons have gone, a German patrol arrives in the valley and the women don’t know why they are there. The women of this tiny community work together on their farms, helping each other as the winter approaches. They anxiously await news of their men folk but can find out nothing. The winter becomes so severe that the women reluctantly accept the German soldiers’ help. Sarah becomes very friendly with the patrol’s commanding officer, Albrecht. But tragedy looms, when the women are suspected of being collaborators.
Andrea Riseborough brings a glowing intensity to her role as Sarah, while Tom Wlaschia gives a strong portrayal of the Nazi officer, Albrecht who is torn between his duty as a German officer and doing what he believes is right. Michael Sheen has a tiny part as a resistance leader.
The film is somewhat long drawn out and lacks any sense of urgency. What is impressive, however, in what is director Gupta’s first film, is the depiction of the Welsh landscape. The sounds and visuals of the valley in different seasons are very well caught. While it will not appeal to those expecting an exciting war film, this is a sensitive, mood piece. Based on the book, Resistance by Owen Sheers, this is a story that could have happened.