Even though it's made in a style that feels familiar, this World War II romantic drama takes a much more complex approach to the period, most notably in the way that it refuses to let anyone become a hero or villain. This is because author Irene Nemirovsky wrote the source novel at the time, not in retrospect, which gives it an unusual kick. And the film also benefits from an extraordinarily textured performance by Michelle Williams.
She plays Lucille, who in 1940 is living in the French country town of Bussy with her mother-in-law Madame Angellier (Kristin Scott Thomas). Since her husband is missing in action at the front, Lucille is feeling trapped in her life with the madame, who cruelly increases her poor-farmer tenants' rent even during these hard times. Then the Germans arrive to occupy the town, and officer Bruno (Matthias Schoenaerts) is billeted in their house. Initially a horrific presence, Bruno turns out to be a soulful young man who misses his family. As he composes music on Lucille's piano, she reaches out to him in friendship, surprised to find a spark of attraction. But things get more complicated when Lucille and the madame begin to help a neighbour (Sam Riley) who crosses the Germans and needs to be hidden from view.
Director Saul Dibb (The Duchess) shoots this in a fairly straightforward costume-drama style, with sun-dappled cinematography and lavish settings. But the film rises above the genre in the characters, who are never allowed to become the usual stereotypes. Both Lucille and Bruno are intelligent young people aware that they're in the wrong place at the wrong time, so it's hardly surprising that they are drawn to each other, and Williams and Schoenaerts spark vivid chemistry that never boils over into forbidden-love melodrama. Each of them is a bundle of contradictions, remaining sympathetic even when they make bad decisions. And Scott Thomas adds further texture as the harsh madame who reveals her own unexpected shadings.
Continue reading: Suite Francaise Review
During the Second World War, France was quickly and violently taken over by the German army. Now, under enemy occupation, the residents find themselves having to house and shelter their victorious enemies. Lucille Angellier (Michelle Williams) is one of these people, having to share her house with Commander Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts). Despite being on two different sides of the conflict, the two find a strange attraction to one-another, and a romance begins to blossom. But Madame Angellier (Kristin Scott Thomas), Lucille's mother-in-law, distrusts the German officer, leading to a series of events that will test the strength of love and trust, in a time of war.
Continue: Suite Francaise Trailer
Exhilarating racing action punctuates this true story, which sharply traces the rivalry between two Formula One champs. It's superbly well-shot and edited, with engaging performances from the entire cast. And with only one moment of calculated sentimentality, it's director Ron Howard's most honest movie in years.
The story begins in the early 1970s, when two rising-star F1 drivers clash over their very different styles. Britain's James Hunt (Hemsworth) is a swaggering womaniser, revelling in the rock-star lifestyle. By contrast, Austria's Niki Lauda (Bruhl) is a fiercely detailed technician who loves pushing barriers. They clearly see things they like in each other, so their different approaches on the track develop into a competitive relationship that spurs them to the front of the pack. Over the years, both meet their wives (Wilde and Lara, respectively) and move from team to team as they rise to the top of their sport. And their rivalry comes to a head at the 1976 German Grand Prix when world champion Lauda is involved in a horrific, fiery accident.
Morgan's script is essentially two biopics cleverly woven together to let us see the push and pull between these two iconic figures. Unexpectedly, Bruhl's Lauda emerges as the stronger character, with his grounded approach and sardonic wit allowing Bruhl to play effectively with submerged emotions. By contrast, Hemsworth's Hunt is little more than a gifted good-time boy who isn't worried about his lack of substance. It's a likeable, loose performance (we barely notice the wobbly British accent). Opposite them Lara and Wilde provide solid, subtle support, as do the fine actors who fill out the pit crews.
Continue reading: Rush Review
James Hunt is English Formula 1 champion well-known for his hedonistic life of women, alcohol and parties and who makes for a stark contrast to his number one rival, the Austrian Niki Lauda. It's the 70s, the golden age for racing, and the pair are riled up to outrun each other in the upcoming 1976 German Grand Prix. However, no-one could predict the tragedy that would soon ensue when Lauda's car fails and bursts into flames on the track, causing him severe burns to his face and body. Hunt blames himself for the accident, as he helped encourage the race to go ahead without the suggested safety arrangements. In spite of all this, the pair are determined to become champions, against all odds but as the professional lives interrupts their personal lives, becoming a champion becomes much more complicated than just winning a race.
'Rush' is a sports drama based on the shocking true story of these two real F1 drivers when their lives took a dramatic turn at the height of car racing. It has been directed by Ron Howard ('Willow', 'Apollo 13', 'The Da Vinci Code') and written by Peter Morgan ('The Queen', 'The Other Boleyn Girl', 'The Last King of Scotland'), and it is set for release this autumn on September 13th 2013.