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Stars: Andrea Riseborough, Tom Wlaschiha, Sharon Morgan
Director: Amit Gupta
One of those always fascinating films that ask us to imagine that the Germans are winning World War II and are invading Britain. London has fallen. Birmingham and Manchester are under siege. But this is not an action epic. Far from it. Gupta's film prefers instead to concentrate in the events in a Welsh valley community, where the women wake one morning to discover all the men have vanished (leaving no messages?), presumably to join a resistance movement, although we're never sure.
A small pocket of Germans moves in, with their commander (Wlaschiha) inevitably becoming attracted to the cwm's most attractive housewife, Sarah (Riseborough). Like his men, the captain is gradually seduced by his idyllic pastoral surroundings, and months pass. But a resistance sniper lurks in the woods, and matters are brought to a head after an ill-fated visit by an older valley resident (Morgan), escorted by a horse-loving German, to an agricultural fair.
This is a carefully considered piece, with lovely sharp photography of the Welsh countryside by John Pardue, including one stunning shot of a wide-spreading tree, which Gupta understandably likes so much that it's held for several seconds. As Sarah, Riseborough is suitably dour throughout, and obviously has an ear for dialect; her soft Welsh is just right. And the soulful Wlaschiha conveys touchingly the divided loyalties of a man torn between life and duty.
And yet, for all the film's values, you do wish rather more would happen. The pace is dangerously slow, and needs more incident and sharper editing to enliven it. Consequently, the picture falls some way short of its considerable potential.
UK 2011. UK Distributor: Metrodome. Colour by deluxe.
88 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.
Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.
Review date: 22 Nov 2011