Comedian Eddie Izzard does a great riff on British war movies of the ’40s, the ones in which the woman goes “Oh, must you rush off to war, my darling?” and the man goes “Yes, darling, I must.” And the woman goes “But it’s so terribly noisy, darling,” and the man goes “It’s my duty, darling.” And everyone talks in plummy Noel Cowardly accents, even if they’re working-class stiffs. Izzard may be amused or aghast to know that the genre is still alive, my darlings, with The Land Girls (Gramercy), a chin-up-and-all-that World War II drama about England’s Women’s Land Army. That was the highly organized network of female volunteers who, between 1917 and 1950, took over farmwork when Britain’s men marched off to war. Some milked cows, dug potatoes, cut timber; many got a taste of freedom away from home for the first time.
Lovely story, stirring as all get-out, but didn’t the English do this stuff yea unto choking on public TV throughout the ’70s and ’80s? What’s David Leland—fine filmmaker (1987’s beauty Wish You Were Here), to be sure—doing mucking about with a musty, cliche-riddled saga that boils down to, Charlie’s Angels Mess With the Taciturn Farmer’s Earthy Son Who Wishes He Were a Pilot? There’s the cheeky one (Anna Friel), the overbred virginal one (Rachel Weisz), and the restless, complicated one (Dangerous Beauty‘s Catherine McCormack). There are countless unfinished sentences, meaningful silences, and shots of England’s green and pleasant land. There’s even this line muttered by the Taciturn Farmer: “I’ve got cows need servicing.” They’re so terribly bovine, darling, must he service them? I guess he must. C-