Suite Francaise

"Excellent"

Suite Francaise Review


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.

Nemirovsky's astonishing novel includes a vast web of characters and plots, and this film narrows the focus significantly. But there are side stories here that further complicate the moral dilemmas, with desperate woman played by Ruth Wilson, Margot Robbie and Alexandra Maria Lara, plus a swaggering Nazi played by Tom Schilling who comes closest to being the film's bad guy. Yes, these smaller side characters are sometimes more simplistic, but the actors add intriguing edges to them. And in the end, this honest approach makes the film far more than just another period romance.


Suite Francaise Trailer

 



Suite Francaise

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 107 mins

Distributed by: The Weinstein Company

Production compaines: Alliance Films, Qwerty Films, Scope Pictures, TF1 Films Production

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Saul Dibb

Producer: Romain Bremond, Andrea Cornwell, , Xavier Marchand

Starring: as Lucille Angellier, as Celine, as Bruno von Falk, as Madame Angellier, as Benoit, as Denise Epstein, as Viscount de Montmort, as Kurt Bonnet, as Viscountess de Montmort, Clare Holman as Marthe

Also starring:

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