There was a time when seeing a non-English language tv series or film in the Netflix Top 10 was a thing of surprise. Then subscribers quickly realised that a lot of fantastic content comes from a range of countries. More recently, that has been Women at War from France.
A limited series, Women at War (Les Combattantes) was created by Cécile Lorne and directed by Alexandre Laurent. It stars Audrey Fleurot, Julie de Bona, Camille Lou and Sofia Essaïdi.
So what is it all about and is it worth watching?
What Is Women at War About?
It is 1914 and France has just entered World War I. In the small town of Saint Paulin on the frontline, four women intersect as each is drawn into the action for their own reasons.
There is Marguerite (Audrey Fleurot), a mysterious Parisian prostitute who moves to the town in search of a specific person.
Caroline Dewitt (Sofia Essaïdi) is married to a wealthy factory owner who has enlisted, leaving her in charge of the family company.
Agnes (Julie de Bona) is the Mother Superior of a convent that has been turned into an army hospital to treat the wounded.
And lastly, there is Suzanne (Camille Lou) a nurse wanted for murder and on the run who ends up working at the hospital.
As the German troops advance each of the four women must step up and do her bit for the country, but nothing is ever that straightforward.
Each has her own personal issues to deal with and as the drama on the field ramps up so too does the drama in their lives as they risk everything for the ones they love.
Women at War Official Trailer
Is Women at War Worth Watching?
The first thing I will say is that while Women at War is set during the World War, it is not a war tv series. There is some action as the German troops advance, but it is limited and used only in context of how it affects the lives of the four lead characters.
And it the limited series is all the better for it because the focus is always on one of the four women. Marguerite left Paris to find her long-lost son, but Marcel Dumont runs the establishment, won't let her go without a fight.
Caroline is a smart capable woman who is being stalled at every turn by her war-dodging, slimy brother-in-law, Charles Dewitt who wants to take over the factory.
Agnes is a nun who finds herself questioning her faith when she falls in love with a soldier and then uncovers what Priest is really up to.
And Camille is a nurse who performed illegal surgeries with devastating consequences and is now hiding out using someone else's identity. But when ‘her husband' turns up, her plan is thrown into disarray.
So what we get are four well-thought-out back stories, all of which end up working for and against our heroes.
The acting is superb, the tension builds with each episode, and by episode 6 is almost unbearable. There's sweet relief when various secrets are exposed, if only because you can almost see all four women being slowly crushed under the weight of them, and by the men who hold them over their heads.
Woman at War, is the kind of drama that draws you in, spins you around, and throws you out at the end exhausted and a little weepy as the fate of Marguerite, Caroline, Camille, and Suzanne draws to a conclusion.
Women at War TV Series Cast
Audrey Fleurot (Safe) as Marguerite de Lancastel, a prostitute who is looking for her son
Julie De Bona as Mother Superior Agnès, who runs the convent which has been turned into a war hospital
Camille Lou as Suzanne Faure, a feminist nurse on the run for murder
Sofia Essaïdi as Caroline Dewitt, left in charge of the family truck factory when her husband goes to war
Sandrine Bonnaire as Éléonore Dewitt, Caroline's mother-in-law
Tchéky Karyo (Baptiste) as Général Duvernet, oversees the army in the town
Laurent Gerra as Abbé Vautrin the Priest at the Convent
Tom Leeb as Joseph Duvernet, the hospital surgeon and the General's son
Yannick Choirat as Marcel Dumont, the owner of the local brothel that Marguerite works in
Grégoire Colin as the vengeful Charles Dewitt, Caroline's brother-in-law who wants to take over the family factory to get out of fighting in the war
Vincent Rottiers as Lucien Charrier, who tries to blackmail Suzanne
Florence Loiret Caille as Yvonne Dumont, Marcel's controlling sister who runs the brothel
Maxence Danet-Fauvel as Colin de Renier, a soldier fighting in the war connected to Marguerite