During the early years of Nazi occupation of France in World War II, romance blooms between Lucile Angellier (Michelle Williams), a French villager, and Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts), a German soldier.
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France, 1940. In the first days of occupation, beautiful Lucile Angellier (Michelle Williams is trapped in a stifled existence with her controlling mother-in-law (Kristin Scott Thomas) as they both await news of her husband: a prisoner of war. Parisian refugees start to pour into their small town, soon followed by a regiment of German soldiers who take up residence in the villagers' own homes. Lucile initially tries to ignore Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts), the handsome and refined German officer staying with them. But soon, a powerful love draws them together and leads them into the tragedy of war. Written by
Matthias Schoenaerts played the piano when he was a kid, so he had a little basis, but he wanted to learn how to play for real in the film. See more »
In one of the last scenes where Michelle Williams is driving away, the camera pans out to a landscape shot. The adjacent wheat field clearly shows tracks of a sprayer used to dessicate the wheat - there was no such thing in 1940. See more »
Flawless film about the first summer of the war in France
What a strange feeling it must be to wake up one morning in familiar surroundings where nothing is familiar anymore This film captures what it was like to live under occupation in France during the early months of the war. It is a captivating story about Lucille, a soft- hearted woman played by Michelle Phillips, whose husband is a prisoner of war. She lives with her severe, controlling mother-in-law, played by Kristin Scott Thomas. The two of them are in the middle of collecting rents from their tenants when the war suddenly comes to town. Over the next few months everything these people thought they knew about themselves and each other changes. German officers are billeted out to homes of villagers, some of whom vindictively write letters denouncing neighbours or accuse sympathizers of liaising with Germans. While Lucille discovers the truth about her husband she begins to fall in love with the sensitive German officer who lives under their roof, until the self-centred mayor's wife sets in motion a series of events that rips the town apart.
At the end of the film a synopsis about the author is given that is difficult to read -- this film is based on an unfinished manuscript by Irène Némirovsky, a Ukranian Jew who died in Auschwitz. The hand written pages were rediscovered by her daughter in the bottom of a suitcase and published in 2004.
This is a tale of everyday people trying to cope in their unrecognizable world. It is both heart wrenching and beautiful to watch. It is also one of the most authentic films I have ever seen of this era. Every aspect of this film's art direction, from costumes and hairstyles to sets and streetscapes captures occupied France in the summer of 1940 better than any film I have ever seen.
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