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.
In Victorian England, the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Troy, a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor.
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
Irène Némirovsky's daughter, Denise Epstein, died on April 28, 2013, two months before filming began. There's a dedication to her in the film's closing credits. 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 »
Sophisticated commentary on inequality and dispossession
Suite Francaise is, for me, a rather sophisticated commentary on inequality and dispossession.
The characters in Suite Francaise are never to any measurable degree in control of their own fate. They are each controlled and constrained by social, economic and political prohibitions. In their own way each suffers a form of inequality of treatment, which leads to some form or other of dispossession.
For the lead characters, the young French wife and the German officer she comes to love, the most obvious inequality is their inability to form and sustain a loving relationship.They are constrained by political differences and social prejudices. Other characters experience dispossession as a result of a variety of factors such as class bias and racial discrimination. The loss in these cases, ranges from dispossession from property, through to deportation and death.
What is clear is the authors frustration and fury at the insanity of the world we live in. How so called civilizations and on a more local level individuals, demonstrate spitefulness and pettiness, (demonstrated by neighbours writing incriminating letters to the occupying German forces about one another) that prevent us all from leading free and happy lives.
This message is driven home all the more painfully and forcefully when you consider the tragic fate of the Jewish author, whose work this film is based upon. Sent to her death at a Nazi concentration camp simply for being Jewish.
The film adaption, derived from her incomplete series of books, is perhaps, a little stilted at times. This may in part be due to the fact the books were incomplete but possibly also due to the subtly of the message, which is not easily communicated in a ninety minute or so film.
In summary, Suite Francaise, is a thoughtful film. The compelling and heartfelt message which asks us all to practice kindness, understanding and tolerance when faced with its antithesis is as relevant in today's troubled times as ever it was. Eight out of ten from me.
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