If you were thinking a willowy leading actress and a lot of cute puppies mean you’re in for a schmaltz fest, think again. I am a Soldier is a hard-hitting drama about a woman compromised by the financial pressures of France’s economic austerity. In a thoughtful, subdued performance, Louise Bourgoin plays Sandrine, a 30-year-old who, after a failed attempt to succeed in Paris, is forced to retreat to Roubaix and the working-class life she’d hoped to escape. Disengaged from the world, she takes a job working at her Uncle Henri’s dog-breeding kennel. Everyone in her immediate circle has money issues, except Henri, and as she soon finds out, that’s because he’s operating an illegal puppy mill. Puppies are smuggled in from Eastern Europe, purchased by weight like meat; the unsold stock disposed of with little more concern. In desperate times money trumps morality and Sandrine stays with it, long enough to discover she has a knack for business. Intoxicated by finding her first real talent in life, Sandrine turns a blind eye to the dark side of the actual business she’s in.