Last Winter

In this starkly beautiful film, Johann (Vincent Rottiers) has inherited his father's cattle farm, part of a rural collective in a mountainous area of central France. A young misfit, Johann is a man of few words, but we believe him when he says that this land, this life, is who he is and all he has. In a few swift strokes, director John Shank etches the intimacy and the scope of Johann's spiritual connection to the earth. While comparisons to Terrence Malick are apt, Shank's elegiac film is rooted in present-day economic (and emotional) realities that ultimately turn an idealist into an outcast. Going it alone rather than selling out, Johann runs the farm on the financial edge, one disaster away from ruin; when there's no roof on the barn, he's just another orphan in the snow. A youngster, Pierre (Theo Laborie), instinctively attaches himself to Johann, like a reflection of the boy Johann once was and a shadow of the future he may never see. This used to be the way knowledge of the land was passed from generation to generation, but these days the laws of nature succumb to the laws of finance just as summer succumbs to fall and fall to endless winter.

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