The Story of woman and her seven children who live on a farm. In spite of the hard work and the mediocre accommodation, their life would be a happy one, but for one person: the owner of the farm an egotistic and authoritarian individual, who is also the lover of the woman and the father of all her children.
Those subscribing to the view that life's a bitch and then you die will doubtless enjoy taking their kids to the cinema to watch this unforgiving tale at Christmas. A mother and her seven children live in a rundown farm building with just two bedrooms and no heating. The father, who owns and runs the farm, is married to and lives with another woman, but has his mistress and offspring working themselves to the bone, not only does he pay them very little for their labour but he also has the cheek to charge them for their meagre lodging.
There is no action, no "story", just an on-going sequence of daily toil, emphasising the tough way of life, the love between the children and the mother, their contempt of the father, and the conflict of love and irritation he feels for them.
It's stark, both in subject matter and in the manner of execution, with the limited dialogue and erratic camerawork and lighting reminiscent of a 1970s documentary seeking to lay everything bare. Watching it becomes a chore as tedious and soul-destroying as any farm labour, and the audience is reduced to the same unlikely hope displayed by the children; that somehow they'll get lucky, the father will have a personality change and stop being a complete bastard, stop playing around with other women and start to take responsibility for his children and the woman he loves even as he hurts her.
Ultimately, it's a sad, and almost (but thankfully not quite) typical French tragedy, with no humour, colour, levity or even wit to put it up on the shelf marked "entertaining". It is a reminder that life is bloody hard, that all we have is each other, and that isn't always enough.
If it does happen to snow for Christmas this year, make a snowman, slide down Ben Nevis on a tea tray, teach your grandma to ski, anything; just don't seek shelter in a cinema showing this miserable tale.