In the Name of the Land was one of the most popular films in France last year. In three weeks, the film attracted well over one million viewers, touching on a story sadly known to too many.
Pierre Jareau (brilliantly played by Guillaume Camet) is a young man who comes home from a ranch in Wyoming to live in France and marry his sweetheart Claire (Veerle Batens). His hard-nosed father sells him the family farm – no suggestion of inheriting it here – and Pierre pays for it with a loan from a bank.
Things go well in the beginning, Pierre and Claire ‘s son Thomas (Anthony Bajon) proves to be as dedicated and hard-working as his father, and they are helped by an employee (Samir Guesmi). Claire looks after the house and acts as the accountant.
Trying to pay off the debt to his unforgiving and disapproving father, while attempting to expand the business to compete with others using agricultural technology adds to the stress. Then there is a fire which burns property and stock, and the hard-working family are in dire straits. There is no foreseeable way out.
There is a sense of foreboding from the start of this film, which is inspired by true events. It is gut-wrenching and difficult to watch – a story of how conglomerates and banks push farmers to expand when fair prices for their produce are not the result of their hard work, bringing overwhelming debt and depression.
There are excellent naturalistic performances from the cast and splendid cinematography by Eric Dumont showcases the beauty of the landscape. And the music by Thomas Dappelo adds to this sad story.
Director Edouard Bergeon with Emmanuel Courcol and Bruno Ulmer wrote the screenplay over two years. It is based on Betgeon’s life as a teenager in a hard-working family who struggled to keep their farm operational in an increasingly globalized market.
He says that his own life was much more tragic and violent than the film describes. The farm burnt down twice and his father’s hell lasted two and a half years.
One farmer suicides every two days in France.
Spoken in French with English sub-titles.
Showing at Luna Leederville and Luna SX Fremantle from 26 November.
Watch the trailer…