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"THE LAND GIRLS"
(1998) (Catherine McCormack, Rachel Weisz) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor Moderate Moderate Minor Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None Mild None Mild
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Mild Minor Minor Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Three young women join the Women's Land Army to work on farms and support the British troops during WWII.
PLOT:
It's 1941 and the British involvement in WWII has left the nation's farms void of farmhands. Thus, the Women's Land Army is formed where young women head off to the fields and barnyards to keep the soldiers and nation fed by its agricultural products. Three young women, Stella (CATHERINE MCCORMACK), a reserved romantic, Ag (RACHEL WEISZ), a Cambridge graduate, and Prue (ANNA FRIEL), a hairdresser, arrive at the Lawrence farm to help out.

Stern Mr. Lawrence (TOM GEORGESON) doesn't think it's a great idea, but his submissive wife (MAUREEN O'BRIEN), welcomes them to their home. Stella spends most of her time worrying about her fiancé, Philip (PAUL BETTANY), who's off at the front, while Ag worries that her virginity might hinder her finding and keeping a man. Prue, on the other hand, immediately sets her sights on the Lawrence's adult son, Joe (STEVEN MACKINTOSH), a young man with his own sights set on joining the British RAF. Despite being engaged to Janet (LUCY AKHURST), however, Joe accepts Prue's advances and they have sex.

As they become more proficient on the farm and as the war rages on, the three women must deal with their individual relationships that develop with Joe, and must also attempt to shape their own destinies by deciding which man is right for each of them.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it's not very likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For some sexuality.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • CATHERINE MCCORMACK plays a reserved woman who begins to question her love for her boyfriend after meeting and falling for Joe.
  • RACHEL WEISZ plays a self-conscious woman who decides she must lose her virginity to attract and properly pleasure her future mate.
  • ANNA FRIEL plays a woman who immediately sets her sights on bedding Joe and quickly succeeds.
  • STEVEN MACKINTOSH plays the young man who helps his parents on the farm when not drawing the amorous attention of all three women (two of which he beds despite being engaged to another woman).
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
    Most films using WWII as the focus or backdrop of their story usually emphasize the male characters and their wartime exploits. Since women didn't serve in combat at that time, the omission of many strong female types in such films is somewhat understandable, but many women did serve other important functions during the war.

    While baby boomers might be familiar with the WAAC's, nurses and other women who worked in the factories ("Rosie the Riveter"), few are probably aware of the Women's Land Army. With most of the male farmhands at war, the British ladies pitched in to keep the nation's agricultural interests operational. Using that as a backdrop for a period drama has potential, but "The Land Girls" is only moderately successful at pulling off a compelling story.

    Like last year's "Paradise Road" that focused on women during the war (in a Japanese P.O.W. camp), this film is also surprisingly unable to elicit as much emotion or empathy from the audience as it could have. Now, that may be because this film is geared more toward women then men and I fall on the other side of that gender fence, but this film did nothing for me when I imagined and thought it should.

    Likewise, while I didn't expect much wartime action in a film like this, it does feel quite detached from the conflict that's layered in the background. Sure, the period costumes are correct, there's a wartime dance with the soldiers on leave, and one of the women worries about her fiancé who's off at the front.

    Yet, when the three women sneak off at night to observe a distant bombing, I didn't feel their horror or fright at the proceedings. It was almost as if that were occurring in another film, and the same holds true for a later scene when a German fighter plane crashes on the farm. The scene itself is okay, it just doesn't gel with the rest of what the movie is trying to accomplish.

    That said, this certainly isn't a horrible film by any means and it does feature some decent scenes and moments. It also gets much better about half way through the proceedings when the screenplay by Keith Dewhurst and director David Leland ("Wish You Were Here") begins to focus more on just one of the three women.

    Until then, the biggest problem is that despite the superficial differences between the young women (their different accents and societal backgrounds), we never really get to know or understand these ladies. Other than their differing, but radiant appearances and their "on the nose" characteristics, one is hard pressed to fully describe them beyond a one-line description.

    A bigger problem arises from the obvious truncation of Angela Huth's source novel from which this film's been based. Especially apparent later in the picture (just when the movie's starting to settle down and focus on one character), scenes pop up out of nowhere and end just as abruptly. When this happens with a woman abruptly getting married to a soldier headed back to the front, one quickly knows his days are as numbered.

    Just like any young G.I. who shows his buddies a picture of his new bride, girlfriend, or pet dog while spending some "down time" in the foxhole in any war movie, it's not long before we hear the bad news. Back to the point, many of those moments come off as if there's more to them than what we're experiencing, but the movie hasn't the time for that and must move on to other melodramatic and mildly manipulative scenes.

    The performances, for what they are, come off as decent but certainly not outstanding. Easily the best is from Catherine McCormack ("Dangerous Beauty," "Braveheart") who succeeds in creating a strong and yet sympathetic character despite the limited way in which her character's been fleshed out.

    The other actresses, Rachel Weiz ("Swept From the Sea," "Going All The Way") and Anna Friel, are okay in their roles, but they aren't developed enough beyond their stereotypical underpinnings to really get to know or care about them. Stephen Mackintosh delivers a decent take as the grounded wannabe RAF pilot who woos all three women, but the most amazing thing is that he's the same actor who so effectively played the transsexual in "Different For Girls."

    The film's technical credits are good and Henry Braham's cinematography ably captures the beautiful English countryside, despite the near constant drizzly and muddy conditions and the chronic lack of sunshine. Brian Lock's score occasionally hits too many manipulative piano chords, but for the most part is adequately constructed.

    While some may find the proceedings satisfying and maybe even emotionally moving, the film is too emotionally detached and flat for my liking. Easy enough to watch, but most likely destined for a quick trip to the video shelves just like its wartime sibling, "Paradise Road," the picture has its moments, but collectively isn't that great. We give "The Land Girls" a 4 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    It's doubtful many kids will want to see this film, but here's a quick summary of its content. Some sexual discussions occur between the women and with certain men, and while several sexual encounters do develop, the most we see is some "under the covers" and other such activity that's not too explicit.

    A limited amount of profanity is heard, but does include 1 use of the "s" word. Likewise, violence is also limited, but does include a plane crash and a pilot who's on fire and is a bit gory looking. If you or someone in your home wishes to see this film, you may want to take a closer look at its content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Joe and Ag have drinks at a dance (liquor and he has a beer) and others drink as well.
  • The family and the women have beer with Christmas dinner.
  • Philip's mother makes the comment that she's "up to my eyebrows in gin."
  • The women have some drinks at an outdoor reception.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Joe has a bloody nose (and later, bruises) after a man punches him in the face.
  • We briefly see a pilot's torn up and bloody looking face after a crash.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Joe has both for sleeping with two of the women while being engaged to a third.
  • Ag lies to Mr. Lawrence to cover for Joe and Prue who are fooling around in the barn.
  • Mr. Lawrence says that they're too busy to allow Stella to go off and see Philip on his leave. In retaliation, Stella plows Lawrence's cherished field that he's never touched.
  • Stella says that she lied to Philip about having her period so that she didn't have to sleep with him.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Prue feigns being hurt after falling from a high beam in the barn (and screams that it's her back), but she's just trying to get Joe to come over to her.
  • Angry that he was turned down for the military, Joe repeatedly jumps from a high beam in their barn, evidently trying to hurt himself (he doesn't).
  • A German plane circles the farm and finally crashes. The pilot survives, but the plane explodes and he catches on fire.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Bombs: The women spot the glow of the explosions and hear their thunderous echo from off in the distance.
  • Rifles: Carried by soldiers in a parade going through a town.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Bugger," "Bloody," "Bloody hell," and "Piss poor."
  • Prue walks along a high structural beam in a barn (like a tightrope act).
  • Angry that he was turned down for the military, Joe repeatedly jumps from a high beam in their barn, evidently trying to hurt himself (he doesn't).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A mild amount of suspenseful music occurs in a few scenes.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 "s" word (with another possible one), 4 uses of the British term "bugger," 4 hells, 3 damns, 1 ass, and 2 uses each of "Oh God" and "God" and 1 use each of "Oh my Lord" and "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Prue mentions "fornication" between her and Joe. When Stella mentions that he's "unspeakable," Prue responds with "What's that got to do with it?"
  • We briefly see Ag and Prue in their bras as they undress to get into the bathtub (just to bathe, with nothing sexual intended). While in the tub, we see brief glimpses of the tops of Prue's breasts.
  • Prue feigns being hurt after falling from a high beam in the barn, but does so to get Joe to come over and undo her belt. After a moment he understands what's happening and the two kiss. They then quickly begin undressing and we see him between her legs in the hay (trying to take off her undergarments), but they're interrupted before anything else happens.
  • Ag admits that she's a virgin and has "never done it," but Stella won't answer Prue's question about whether she is or not.
  • Prue climbs into bed with Joe and they begin fooling around. When he reminds her that this is her idea, she reaches under the covers and grabs his privates stating, "Oh? What's that?" He then makes some pleasured sounds as she plays with his privates under the covers. They then quickly take their underwear off (under the covers) and it's implied that they have sex.
  • We see Joe on top of a woman, kissing her, in a car, but they're stopped before anything else happens.
  • We see Prue pulling up her underwear, apparently after peeing on the side of the road, but don't see any nudity.
  • Although Prue tells Ag that it's no big deal being a virgin, Ag wants to be experienced so that everything will be perfect when she finally has sex with the man of her dreams. Thus, Prue convinces Ag to ask Joe to help her out, and she finally asks him, "Could you give me a go?"
  • Stella and Philip check into a motel room as a married couple, but when he's ready to have sex, she says that the time isn't right due to her "monthly event" (so nothing happens).
  • Ag and Joe undress (down to their undergarments) as they get ready to have sex. As she babbles on about her family history, she mentions that her father is a prosecutor. Joe then jokingly asks, "Will he prosecute me for coming too soon?" As Ag later tells Stella and Prue about having sex with Joe, she says that she asked to do it again, but that he turned down her offer.
  • Joe and Stella kiss and he tells her, "Just you wait until I get you in bed." She replies that he'll have to wait and he responds that he doesn't think he can.
  • SMOKING
  • Ag and Stella smoke twice, while Prue, Philip and other miscellaneous characters smoke once.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • A new bride learns that her husband was killed in the war.
  • Joe briefly argues with his parents.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The historical accuracy of the story, and the role of women in wartime settings before they could serve in combat.
  • The status of being a virgin — Ag is ready to lose her virginity so that she can be "properly prepared" for her future mate.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We hear bombs exploding and see the flashes of war from a very long distance, but don't see any up close action.
  • A jealous man pulls Joe off a woman and then punches him in the face.
  • A new bride learns that her husband was killed in the war.
  • A plane crashes and an explosion injures the pilot and sets him on fire, eventually killing him.
  • We learn that a man's legs have been amputated due to a wartime injury.



  • Reviewed June 9, 1998

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