Whilst terrible acts are perpetrated in the name of war, there are often equally heinous events which take place in its shadow. France is a country which is no stranger to guerre. Indeed, throughout history (and even before it was officially one nation) our Gallic cousins seem to have been almost continually involved in one conflict or another. However, there are very few stories of those left behind to eek out a living whilst the men fight. This is the focus of Xavier Beauvois’ new film, The Guardians.

With her son-in-law Clovis (Olivier Rabourdin) and her two sons Constant (Nicolas Giraud) and Georges (Cyril Descours) called off to war, Hortense (Nathalie Baye) find herself thrust into the position of head of the Paridier household and farm. Along with her daughter Solange (Laura Smet) and a hardworking orphan Francine (Iris Bry) who is hired to help, they somehow manage to prosper. However, despite romance blossoming between Georges and Francine, the pall of war and pressures of everyday life sow the seeds of discord.

The Guardians is an elegant, thoughtful and meticulously constructed portrait of wartime existence. After the success of the magnificent Of Gods and Men, Beauvois’ once again paints a vibrant picture of a small community desperate for survival. The rich and wonderous tapestry of rural life is brought to the screen in glorious hues, as is the dark and menacing shadow of war. The Guardians is a refined and studied drama which prospers from an intelligent script and fine acting performances.

The Guardians is out in cinemas from Friday.