Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -|Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
The French-Belgian dramatized historical drama, which is popularly known as “Les Combattantes”, is set in a small French town during the commencement of the First World War. Initially, there’d been optimism that the battle would be brief, but unfortunately that didn’t transpire. Furthermore, to prevent the German army from trying to invade Paris, the French army engaged in combat with the adversaries at Saint Paulin, Vosges.
Things start to get real once the breadwinners of the household leave for war. Following that, it is up to the women to manage both their personal and professional lives.
Women At War gives an insight into the hardships and lives of those who remained behind while their family members participated in this devastating war. It draws attention to the contributions made by women in various wartime occupations, the majority of which go overlooked in that setting.
We follow the tale of a nun who experiences a crisis in her belief system as challenges arise all around the congregation; a nursing assistant who is fleeing from the police; a prostitute who is searching for somebody she lost several years ago; and a woman who has taken over her partner’s production plant when he is forced to go to war.
Created by Camille Treiner and Cecile Lorne, the series paints a compelling portrayal of four women who serve as the protagonists and the people who surround them. It’s difficult not to become caught up in the storyline and the women’s futures. Additionally, the storyline changes dramatically over the span of eight episodes since many secrets are revealed, forcing the protagonists to face the truths they had been attempting to avoid.
Moreover, surprising alliances are formed, and in their wake, new foes are made. Even so, the women exhibit extraordinary bravery and resilience and find solutions to challenges that at first glance appear impossible to overcome. As the adversary advances on them in larger numbers, everybody has a contribution to make in the larger picture, and the clock is ticking.
The show’s approach is quite intriguing as it chooses a fascinating route to explore. War and soldiers have been the focus of many tv shows and movies, but it is interesting to see things from the perspective of the wives left behind instead. The show’s setting is breathtaking, and it has a warlike feel to it that is simply a visual treat.
Sadly, though, the show misses the mark by becoming a bit too melodramatic and soap opera-esque as it goes along and it stops being as realistic as it was in the first few episodes.
For instance, there’s a scene where Sister Geneviève is about to commit suicide but Mother Agnes senses something is wrong and rushes to the church. Another instance is when we see Suzanne operating on Joseph while he is fully conscious, and even more unbelievably he is directing her throughout the procedure. The incorporation of these bizarre daily soap components is rather disappointing given that the show started with very realistic and logical problems.
The four principal characters are brilliant in their roles and their features really stand out and draw you in. Being able to empathize with the protagonists is made even more fascinating by the fact that they are complex grey characters. Along with the main protagonists, the side characters too fit their roles perfectly and do an excellent job in their respective roles. Furthermore, the antagonists have a redeeming quality that makes them appear more sympathetic and real.
Overall, the approach Women at War has chosen is a good one, but the execution could’ve been better if they’d cut out the melodramatic scenes and kept the show’s first three episodes’ level of realism throughout. Despite a few wobbles, this one’s still worth checking out.
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Verdict - 7/10