Suite Française (2014) Poster

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An everyday story of collaboration and betrayal
waswasere14 March 2015
I was nearly put off going to see this after reading a few sneering reviews, which in retrospect appear to have been more an attempt by the critic to show off about their having read the novel than having actually anything to do with what's on screen.

Yes, the narration is a little heavy handed at times but ultimately necessary and the incongruous "When it comes to war you really find out what people are really like" early on felt like it was being trowelled out so we didn't miss it. Sure, it's not perfect but these are minor niggles not major flaws.

Thankfully, it isn't a boy invades village; girl falls in love; boy isn't as beastly as first thought kind of story. Life's more complicated than that. Where the film excels is that what you think of a character changes as the film progresses. There is no good German. There is no black and white collaboration. There are just people confronted with circumstances and how they react to them.

Michelle Williams brilliantly underplays her role which counteracts the clumsiness of the script in places, Matthias Schoenaerts is superb as the sensitive and conflicted man of war and the supporting cast excellent.

It's a little gem.
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Deep, surprising and well done
paul_3-960-8967744 May 2015
Suite Française sounds like an overused plot that one can predict from a mile away but it's not. The story's not another version of Romeo and Juliet's impossible love. It's subtle, sweet, and smart because it makes you think - just a little bit don't worry - about morals, values, and ideologies our own and that of the ones we love. The film is about a blooming love story but a complicated one.

Lucile & Bruno's longing and desire for each other doesn't get frustrating or outrageously déjà vu, it only adds another flavor, to the many, in the film. It contrasts well with Celine's (Margot Robbie) lack of restraint on her urges. It begs the question on ideologies and desire, when do they impede each other? No one is just one dimensional in this film, you see the good, the bad, and questionable in every one. Ambivalence is the key word in this film, conflicting emotions and ideologies is in the center of this story.

The storytelling is just amazing, layered with subtlety and beauty, it carries you through every step of the way like musical notes played on the piano. The ensemble cast is great, all of the characters have some kind of layers to them, each of them memorable in their own way, without ever making the film crowded or hard to follow. Kristin Scott Thomas embodies the devotion her character has, Michelle Williams fits the role perfectly she has this quite strength that Lucile needs, and Matthias Schoenaerts really is the prince in the big bad wolf suit or vice versa.

Suite Française is a captivating and poignant story that has an equally emotive roots, the film surprised me. @wornoutspines
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A tale of love, and survival amid the horror of war
Figgy66-915-59847018 March 2015
18 March 2015 Film of Choice at The Plaza Dorchester Tonight - Suite Française. Based on an unfinished series of books by Irène Némirovsky, a Ukranian Jew who died in Auschwitz, they were discovered and held by her children, but not read until 1998. They were eventually published as a single volume in 2004 and this film is the adaptation of that printed story. It's a tale of life in the war, a tale of love, betrayal, a tale of deceit and survival. Lucile is a young girl forced to live with her severe and controlling Mother-in-Law, played exceptionally well by Kristin Scott Thomas. When their village is occupied by the Germans they are forced to play host to a German Officer, but he is unlike the others. Lucile is a timid put upon girl who appears to meekly abide by what her Mother-in-Law decrees, but as the film gains momentum we see her true character assert itself. This is a tale of everyday people, trying to survive as the horror of war is raging around them. Very beautifully shot with a delicate soundtrack revolving around the piece of music written by the young German Officer. Once again you leave the cinema with the feeling of futility, and waste which come from watching stories about the war, but also in a peculiar way, I had the sense of having watched something very beautiful.
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There Is Another Untold Story Within This Interesting Work
krocheav30 July 2016
There's a story behind this movies existence that is as interesting as the film itself. It's disappointing to know that scenes involving the original story writers daughter (played by veteran Eileen Atkins) were deleted prior to the films release. Unfortunately, all that's left of these scenes is a montage of pages from her mothers original manuscript shown under the end credits - using these notes in this way can prove a little confusing for those unaware of the origins of these writings - as it tends to appear as if the films story was based on factual characters (while I'm sure many were indeed based on very real people and for the most part the instances portrayed were founded on some terrible historical facts).

The author of the original story, Irene Nemirovsky, was tragically sent to her death at the hands of the invading German army following bitter fighting during the occupation of France in 1942. Her husband, before he also was executed, gave their daughter Denise his wife's manuscripts. Denise, for emotional reasons did not read her mother's writings till an astounding 60yrs later. She eventually had them compiled into a novel that was published in 2002 - becoming an international best seller. Story rights were then sold for production as a screenplay. Denise sadly died just before the films release. To play the main protagonist producers cast Michele Williams (My week With Marilyn '11) mother to the late Heath Ledgers daughter. Considering some of William's earlier roles she is nothing short of remarkable - turning in a convincingly measured performance as the repressed Lucile Angellier.

This is more than a conventional wartime romantic movie as it deals realistically with the shocking impact of oppression and the devastating consequences it brings to all involved. Perhaps had the film makers paid a little less attention to the screenplays various sexual intrigues, they may have been able to treat us to those deleted scenes detailing the fascinating real life story - involving the writers daughter discovering her mothers work all those years after the event!. Director and co-screenplay writer Saul Dibb along with collaborating writer Matt Charman - join forces with director of photography Eduard Grau to create some remarkably atmospheric scenes. One well executed sequence featuring endless lines of displaced French families fleeing the relentless onslaught on foot, is a sad and dramatic sight.

Those who remain in their homes are met with enforced billeting of German Officers - this brings out the worst of human nature with neighboring villagers sending notes 'rating' on their fellow neighbor's to gain favour from the Germans - a shocking act indeed. Music plays a key role throughout the film with a romantic piano soliloquy composed by Alexandre Desplate played throughout. The exciting accompanying action score is contributed by Rael Jones. Overall this is a sincere portrait of a dreadful time in human history and while the the script may falter in several situations it's far more thoughtful than some other offerings along these lines. Performances are strong with a sterling cast of professionals working at their peak.

Note: This film is remarkably similar to an earlier production, staring the great Maria Schell "So Little Time" '52" - this marvelous classic film has recently been released on DVD in England and is more than well worth locating.
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Flawless film about the first summer of the war in France
JonathanWalford22 July 2015
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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Sophisticated commentary on inequality and dispossession
s327616929 July 2015
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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Enjoyed this because I loved the book
jmkaep8 August 2015
I am a 63 year old female so my tastes differ from those of the younger demographic. I enjoyed this movie, I think it follows the book fairly closely. Read the book a while ago, so I don't remember exactly. Michelle Williams was good considering she mostly had to stand around looking scared, great English accent. Kristin Scott was icy and imperious. Maybe a bit over the top.

Very authentic. Good costumes, sets, location.

Yes this movie had a soap opera feel, that was the type of story it told.

The tragic thing is that the author Irene Nemirovsky was betrayed by her countrymen to the Nazis and died in a German concentration camp. Her daughter found the manuscript in her belongings many decades later. So the novel was written during the time of the Second World War, it's more authentic than novels written decades after.
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kosmasp5 September 2016
During war time sacrifices have to be made. Some have to do with our private space, some with our personal space too. All dig into our personal life and depending on the person invading (pun somewhat intended) it will lead to different results. So we may be inclined to paint every Nazi as a bad person or just a demon/devil without any depth or sympathy for that person.

This movie does try to delve deeper into it and tell a bit of a different story. War is hard on everybody and depending on how your character is developed you'll make decisions that can be qualified as good or bad, be it in hindsight or just judging at the moment. The drama part does work and there are no easy solutions if any at all. Not an easy but an uncomfortable viewing experience which is exactly what it was meant to be
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love in times of war
dromasca30 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The life and death of Irène Némirovsky and the fate of the cycle of novels that inspired 'Suite francaise' could be the subject of a thrilling movie, a different one. Born in 1903 in an Ukrainian Jewish family, she took refuge to France after the First World War with her family flying the Russian revolution, but was never granted French citizenship. Converting to Catholicism and writing French nationalistic (some consider these anti-Semitic) fiction did not spare her the fate of the majority of the French Jews - deportation to the concentration camps and death (at Auschwitz). 'Suite francaise' was planned to be a five volumes saga about the years of war, written as the events happened. Irene Nemirovsky wrote only two of them before being deported, the manuscript was unread for more than half of a century until discovered by her daughter and published as what has become a historical novel about the years of the war.

I did not read (yet) the books, but from the synopsis on Wikipedia I understand that the script departs quite afar from the original. The (spectacular) introduction scenes may not be in the book but they are useful to understand the context and the historical moment. Similarly, the final seems to be a Hollywood patch, not necessarily adding anything. The core of the film resides in the building love story between the young French woman whose husband is a prisoner of war and the German officer who is allocated to live in their house. It's a complex relationship, and the merit of the script is that it avoids the black-white, bad-good nuances and moral judgments leaving room for the feelings and emotions. There is also a strong social content, both in the main story (are love or even co-existence allowed between occupier and occupied? here is a question valid also in other times and places) and in the secondary story of the mayor-viscount who pays with his life the price of collaboration. Ambiguity is however the tone that works here best.

One of the hard obstacles for viewers of 'Suite francaise' is the fact that the film is American and spoken in English. I do not know whom I should ask, but I would certainly loved to see a French version. Maybe it's still easier for the non-French to deal with the theme of 'la collaboration'? Beautiful and fragile Michelle Williams and tormented and introspective Matthias Schoenaerts do both good acting jobs in the main roles, but best of all is Kristin Scott Thomas as the mother-in-law who may make you change your mind about the moral fabric of the French high classes. Saul Dibb is only at his third long feature film and directs with kind of an academic touch not exactly to my taste, but there are many good reasons to go and see this film.
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Well Done!! Two thumbs up from this guy!
TheScarceMovieCritic9 August 2015
I loved this movie! I generally love most World War II movies simply because I enjoy the culture during that time in history. However, this movie really did take me by surprise. I thought just by viewing the thumbnail and the quick Bio that it could have potential, so I decided to watch it. Not only did it meet the potential that I thought it had, it surpassed it!

I don't want to give any spoilers away, but there was something that happened during the movie that I simply didn't agree with, thus giving it only 9 out of 10 stars.

But I still highly recommend this movie!
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A Rare Love Story, One That Rings True
rjsf966 April 2015
Perhaps the best thing about 'Suite Française' is that the love story is intriguing. This is a rare thing nowadays and brings to mind the great heyday of romance in the Seventies. 'Suite Française' is set in Nazi occupied France during the start of World War II. You will therefore be crying with powerful and furious emotion. Michelle Williams is at the fore front of this film; gladly she does not fail or let the production team down in any respect. She plays a French Villager (I think) called Lucile Angellier. I say this statement with doubt as last time I checked French people did not speak English as their first language. Her overbearing mother is played with severity by Kristin Scott Thomas. She outright leads her daughter's life for her and plays a prominent role in all of her decisions, whether they be little or large. Their village becomes ruled and dictated by German soldiers, some much more brutal than others. There are different personalities and beliefs to each of them. This is great to see, because it paints a broader and larger painting. It shows us that not everyone can be placed definitively into a category.

Lucile is eventually watched over by a lieutenant by the name of Bruno Von Falk. Yes they do fall in love. But it is not as clichéd as I had suspected even if it does fall prone to a few nearly unavoidable clichés. It is the small subtleties that shape their romance. Lucille grows tired of her mother being in charge of her own life and this relationship allows her to become more independent and free minded. This provides the audience with depth, as it is not just a forbidden romance, but a necessary one as well. The lieutenant is acted sufficiently by Matthias Schoenaerts, who proves that he is not just a pretty face off of Hollywood's conveyor belt of seemingly endless blank, bland and boring male actors.

The horrors of war are slightly forgotten about as the film enters its later stages of the romance. But I cannot become too angry at the film, as it is a romance and not a war film. The film maintains good pacing, so that nothing is sudden and unexpected. This is an absolute necessity as we must become invested in the romance as time progresses. This is something that the Director should be proud of. That we maintain a surging like towards the two leads and always care about the characters. For the impatient they may find the whole affair too plodding, as there is only one action set piece located at the start of the film and even that is as brief as they come. But ask yourself, do we really need more action; for this type of film, no, absolutely not. In the last act of it, it becomes a sad if predictable experience, which therefore means that the smallest trace of a tear is kept at bay. The film in its final moments is everything that it promised us it would not be; clichéd and predictable.

Although far too predictable in its final act 'Suite Française' represents one of the more plausible romances in recent memory. The acting is enthusiastic by Michelle Williams and the male lead gets the job done. 'Suite Française' may be too drama heavy, but if the romance is this engaging; then frankly my dear I don't give a damn.
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Bitter suite
davidgee19 March 2015
SUITE FRANCAISE comes with a 'genesis' story, of which we are reminded in the end credits. The Jewish author died in Auschwitz, having written the first two novels of a planned quintet in notebooks which were only rediscovered in 1998 and republished in 2004. This Anne Frank back story is more poignant than the romance in the book and the movie.

Matthias Schoenaerts is very believable as the Nazi with a soft centre, and Kristin Scott Thomas is splendid as the flinty mother-in-law, although her role somewhat runs out of steam. Michelle Williams' lead performance is a bit under-powered: maybe it needed an actress of Cate Blanchett's intensity to bring the character to life. Director Saul Dibb appears to be aiming for a Thomas Hardy tragic 'pastorale', but the end result has more the tone of a Mills & Boon novelette. And, at my local Odeon, it was a very grainy print.

I ended up feeling that I'd seen a heterosexual version of E.M. Forster's MAURICE: a bitter-sweet love-story with lots of period charm but not enough guts.
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Impossible love stories do not get more impossible than this
dierregi6 June 2017
At the beginning of WWII, a young married woman (Williams) and her mother in law (Scott Thomas) living in a village close to Paris, are forced to take in their house a German officer from the occupying forces (Schoenaerts).

Scott Thomas is perfect as Madame Angellier, the icy mother in law with a twist. Williams and Schoenaerts are suitably reserved and understated as the star-crossed lovers. Sounds predictably tragic, but it is actually a very well made and interpreted movie. Also an engaging and believable love story, rather than a paint-by-number or a post-modern one.

The supporting cast is equally good, with a bunch of inhabitants - from the local gentry to the lowest peasants - in conflict with each other and foolishly thinking they can exploit the nasty German occupants to settle personal scores.

The melancholy of the story rings true, maybe because it is based on a novel written at the time of the events narrated. Definitely a refreshing experience in old-style storytelling – think "Casablanca", with slightly more gory details and less hope in the future of a beautiful friendship.
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An impeccable telling of a tragic tale
robert-temple-115 May 2016
This is a film of the first two volumes of a planned five-volume novel by Irène Némirovsky (aka Irina Lvivna Nemirovska, born in Kiev), born 1903, died in Auschwitz on 17 August 1942. Némirovsky was a successful Jewish writer living in France who in her lifetime published three novels, all of which were filmed: David GOLDER (1931, filmed a second time in 1950) and LE BAL (1931, filmed a second time in 1993). In 2015 a film was made in France of her novel DEUX. She was arrested as a Jew by the Gestapo just after finishing volume two of her final novel. The manuscript remained in a suitcase and was not looked at until 1998, when it was rediscovered and published in France to great acclaim. The female lead in this film is played by the amazing Michelle Williams, one of our most talented film actresses in the world, whose work I have previously had occasion to praise to the skies, as for instance in LAND OF PLENTY (2004, see my review) and INCENDIARY (2008, see my review). In this film she has a rather subdued role, of a young woman who is shy and emotionally suppressed, living under the tyrannical eye of an authoritarian other-in-law, played sternly by Kristin Scott Thomas. The other spectacular performance in the film is by Matthias Schoenaerts, He is a Belgian actor (his name is Flemish). He plays the polite Lieutenant in the Wehrmacht who is billeted in Michelle Williams's house. He is not only a classical pianist but a composer. The music he composes while he lives in the house he names 'Suite Francaise', hence the title of the film. It is a very pleasant piece of music originally composed for the film by Alexandre Desplats, the French film composer. The film is superbly directed by Saul Dibb, who also jointly wrote the screenplay. The story is extremely sad and full of pathos. It shows clearly the bombing of the columns of civilian refugees from Paris by the psychotic pilots of the Luftwaffe. As we now live in an age of refugees once again, it is possible to appreciate more fully the horrors experienced by the French refugees shown in this film. We have the usual sadistic Nazi assassination of a Mayor as a reprisal to the inhabitants of a small town. Such films serve to remind us always of what happened under Nazi rule. But the biggest revelation is the avalanche of letters informing on people, a massive betrayal by the French against themselves, eager to settle scores with their neighbours by turning them in to the Nazis, not bothering much whether the information provided is true or lies. We also see the Mayor openly collaborating with the occupiers (before he is shot, that is). The film is very powerful and emotionally upsetting, and an excellent cinematic achievement.
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Days later I can't stop thinking about this movie
mollieconwell7 October 2018
Up until this point, Pride and Prejudice (Keira Knightley version) has been my favorite movie of all time, but this movie competes for the number one spot. I absolutely love the historical romance genre, but I'm a little picky in that it HAS to keep my interest. There are some highly recommended historical romance movies out there that just aren't what they're cracked up to be. This movie is not like that. This movie has me still thinking about it days later, and I'm about to watch it again for the second time in less than a week. It's well developed, the actors/actresses play their parts wonderfully, and it puts an interesting perspective on the people of the time. Please give this movie a watch.
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Predictable, but enjoyable
nietta942 August 2017
Reading the synopsis already gives the directions to the movie; not much of a surprise to me, to be fairly honest. The disposition of characters and their personalities are very well known in romantic fiction.

However, it is still a intriguing and beautiful movie. You can enjoy the marvelous landscapes of France and Belgium countrysides. Though predictable, the dynamic of the main couple is delicate and makes you cheer for them. It also shows the civilian point of view of war, far from the battle camps, but still a painfully one.

This movie gave me exactly what I wanted and expected. A forbidden and almost cheesy romance that's not your usual WWII movie.
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Excellent FIlm
oliverdearlove16 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I was drawn to this film as I knew about Irene Nemirovska - that she had converted to Christianity but that did not save her and she died early on in Auschwitz. The first book which hardly features in this film ( strafing the column of refugees) details the flight of a bank and its personnel to Tours - actually the map is shown in the credit sequence. When I read it - it was exactly as my father described as he was caught and made a POW at Dunkirk. I recommend it to anyone to read. The story line of the film is well worth seeing - I saw it with a friend and after I went home he sat back for the rest .... Easily as good as The Black Book and WInter War. I thought it was very well crafted - the mayoress never says to the mayor "what I did has led to your death" but it was all poignantly acted. Lucille never confesses her love for Bruno.
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mompaxton-481-1213816 November 2015
What a lovely movie. A truly horrid time, war, finds something so real and alive, love and passion. Michelle Williams is a true untapped resource for a strong performance. I wish she did more films. She is stunning in the most real and beautiful way. She draws you in and makes you feel every emotion tenfold. A true powerhouse of talent. Kristin Scott Thomas plays the perfect stone old maid but with an underlying warm heart. In a time of war everyone had to brick their hearts away or be dragged under by the war machine. She portrays that beautifully. She plays the part from top to bottom with the zest of a Disney villain. BUT, don't judge too quickly. Matthias....ahhh Matthias. Can't get me enough of him. Yet another hidden gem of Hollywood.
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The surprisingly likable soldier.
troyputland22 December 2015
Suite Francaise poses a big dilemma during German-occupied France in WWII: not all Allied forces are good, and not all Nazis are sinners. For example, Matthias Schoenaerts' soldier Bruno is admiral, calm and polite, especially towards village girl Lucile (Michelle Williams), with whom he's staying with. Their feelings for each other grow, much to blah's disgust. Schoenaerts and Williams are on fine form, especially the former of the two. Lucile is a little too callous and hostile, but not as much as Kristen Scott Thomas, who plays unlikeable too well. Schoenaerts I weirdly felt is the one to route for. Suite Francaise is more village drama than history lesson. It's a love story without much heart, a bit of history and a rocking cast.
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Suite is a Sweet film
bryangary6518 March 2018
About the human side of war seen from both camps, the oppressor and the oppressed

Michele Williams is as normal quite mesmerising to watch, and an atmospheric performance from Schoenaerts.
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Sacharine Sweet costume drama
miriamday-3560520 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Now I like a floral frock and a well-pressed Nazi uniform (on screen, you understand) as much as the next gal, but I do find the nostalgic framing of WWII in the movies a little troubling – and 'Suite Francaise' is no exception. The hand of the BBC is everywhere visible in the production, from the costumes to the doughty cast of characters who could have come straight from the set of 'Poldark' or 'Lark Rise to Candleford.

Michelle Williams plays 'the beautiful Lucille' (as described by the BBC) and Matthius Schoenaerts gives Ralph Fiennes a run for his money as the brooding, handsome and 'refined' (BBC again) Nazi soldier, his refinement on show for all to see via his wistful tinkling on Michelle's, erm, piano.

The two, entirely predictably, fancy the pants off each other (or should that be cami-knickers) and various complications ensue, what with him being a Nazi and everything. But the moral of the story is that lurv and that old-British-chestnut 'common decency' prevail, wresting some kind of happy ending from the film and – by extension – the Nazi occupation of France.

The film is based on a recently discovered manuscript. Irène Némirovsky, an ultra-nationalist Russian Jew exiled in France, wrote the stories while living under German occupation. In that context 'Suite Francaise' can perhaps be understood as an attempt to humanise an implacable enemy, the natural desire to have love triumph – at least in the imagination. The real story is remarkable and could have made an interesting film, since Irene Nemirovsky's end was not happy and neither love nor common decency prevailed: like 6 million other European Jews she was ultimately betrayed by the people she lived amongst and sent to Auschwitz, where she died.

The unending nostalgia for WWII, envisaged as a time of moral simplicities and endless heroism, airbrushes the reality: that millions of 'ordinary' people in every nation in Europe collaborated with the Germans and shared their distrust and hatred of the Jews, while the wealthy admired the Nazis as a bastion against the political left.

When poverty comes through the door, the saying goes, love flies out the window. Ignorant hatred of Muslims, xenophobia and anti-semitism are stalking the streets of Europe once again. We should resist these cosy fables, that reduce WWII to a lush setting for romance, and face up to the less palatable realities of our shared past – which no amount of lipstick can gloss over.

For a grittier, more complex, troubling and interesting exploration of similar themes see Louis Malle's 1974 film 'Lacombe Lucien.'
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What I thought of it
driesenbrandon-819488 August 2015
Full feeling of the movie: It's a good movie if you are in complicated Romance movies. it properly shows how people find feelings in war even if those people are an opposing force. That said there is a movie which I feel shares similar points although being different in many ways including country of setting, people and their relations. As this is my first review I do not know if this is allowed but will give it a shot. I feel this movie is very close related to Captain Corelli's Mandolin with Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz. But there are still many differences in the movie. And the similarities are only in the few settings of the movie. It is worth the watch. About the reaction of the story: I drawn to the story from the first 10 minutes. Although I felt the male protagonist had a bit of a unimpressive introduction. as I entered the final scene of the film I looked at running time and saw it was almost done. The story is put well together and interesting that you will want for more.

Final sentence: Its very well worth your time to watch this movie
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I came to the film expecting something special. It isn't.
JamesHitchcock24 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Irène Némirovsky was a French author of Jewish origins, who died in 1942 during the Holocaust; her last novel "Suite Française" was discovered in manuscript by her daughter in the nineties and first published in 2004. This film is officially an Anglo-Franco-German co-production, but features an American leading lady and, although the German characters speak to one another in their own language, the French ones all speak English. Such is the Anglo-Saxon domination of the movie business these days that the French find it difficult to get a French-language film made out of a novel set in France by a leading French novelist.

The action takes place in 1940, in the town of Bussy in Nazi-occupied France. A young woman named Lucille Angellier falls in love with Bruno von Falk, a German officer. Lucille is married, but her marriage does not seem to a happy one and she discovers that her husband has a mistress and an illegitimate child. Bruno is also married, but we learn little of his wife in Germany.

The standard way of making a drama like this would be to make Bruno a "good German"- i.e. anti-Nazi. Here the position is a bit more complicated. Bruno is good-looking, courteous, and sensitive and sees himself as humane. In civilian life he was a composer and musician; the title derives from his latest composition. Yet he is not anti-Nazi. Indeed, he seems to be in sympathy with elements of Nazi ideology, although he prefers to speak of the "collective spirit". He claims to be a Francophile, but can see nothing wrong with his country invading and occupying France if the German leadership believes that military necessity demands it. His main complaint is that some of his countrymen make it impossible to wage war in the correct chivalrous spirit.

At first there is no active resistance in the area; some French people actively collaborate with the Germans while others try to get on with their lives as best they can. Things change when a local farmer shoots dead a Nazi officer who has been making advances towards his wife. The man goes into hiding and the German commander orders harsh reprisals. Lucille is faced with a moral dilemma, and Bruno realises that war can no longer be a matter of chivalry.

The best acting performance comes from Kristin Scott Thomas as Lucille's domineering mother-in-law. The wealthy Madame Angellier is not popular in the town, partly because she is a prize snob and partly because she treats her tenants with disdain, mercilessly rack-renting them. (Her wealth derives from her ownership of land which she leases out to local farmers at high rents). When the invasion comes, however, she reveals herself to be a truer patriot than many of those who despise her, refusing to have any truck with the occupying soldiers. Michelle Williams and Matthias Schoenaerts, however, never give much sense of any grand passion; I was somewhat disappointed in Williams who was better in some of the other films in which I have seen her, such as "My Week with Marilyn" and "Shutter Island".

Indeed, I was somewhat disappointed in the film as a whole. I have never read Némirovsky's novel, but I have heard it described as a rediscovered masterpiece, so I came to the film expecting something special. It isn't. It isn't anything particularly bad either, but it is certainly no masterpiece. It is little more than the sort of standard wartime romance with which we in Britain have become very familiar over the years since 1945. The very implausible ending seemed to have been contrived to tack a happy conclusion onto a story which seemed to be moving inexorably towards tragedy. It might have been better if "Suite Française" had been made as a French language movie; it might not have done such good business at the box office, but it might have had more originality and artistic integrity if the producers had not had to worry about how it would go down in Germany, Britain and America. 6/10
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Love is in the air ... during WWII ... guess it's forbidden
peterp-450-2987165 August 2015
"This German is our enemy. Do you understand? Yes. Madame."

Occasionally my lovely, sweet wife (yep, she regularly reads my reviews) gets the privilege to choose a movie. Usually this is accompanied by a blistering reproach that I always get it my way. I always think of her when choosing a movie and usually it's an acceptable one. She tends to forget that. I usually look those gore and scarier flicks in the middle of the night on my own, so I'm saved from a wife who awakes in a panic while planting her sharp nails into my shoulders. Hence I braced myself for a romantic war drama and expected it to be a wilted station novel. Ultimately, it wasn't so bad. The romantic rumble was limited and there was more attention for the mutual relations between the richer and poorer population in the village of Bussy and the vicissitudes of a fugitive, crippled farmer.

Besides, I must admit that I have a weak spot for WWII movies. I readily admit that those were the dark pages in the history of Europe, but those developments in these years were a fertile ground for a whole range of excellent war films. The fact that Matthias Schoenaerts also succeeded in getting the leading role here, was another reason for me to give this movie a chance. Let's say chauvinism raised its head and as a Belgian I'm proud to see how this fellow countryman has worked his way into the club of the better international actors (sorry Muscles from Brussels, but you just didn't get in that club) Surprisingly, I didn't suffer from aching jaws because of the complete absence of yawning. There's of course the forbidden love between Lucille (Michelle Williams), the daughter of the strict and cold landowner Madame Angellier (beautiful played by Kristin Scott Thomas) on the one hand and officer Bruno von Falk (Schoenaerts), a German officer who has been assigned a place to sleep at the manor of the latter two ladies, on the other. Eventually, this forbidden love remains slumbering a bit on the background and isn't imaged explicitly. But their like-minded love for music comes more to the fore. The additional story lines made it more interesting. The other arrogant German officer who sees himself as an Übermensch and treats the locals disrespectful, the callous mother in law who appears to be a resistance fighter in the making, the mayor and his wife (two genuine ass kissers) trying to get in good graces with the occupiers but face the consequences afterwards and the resistance of a peasant against the oppressors.

All this is beautifully illustrated and featured with the usual scenes of war (a nosedive of German fighter-bombers against innocent refugees is included of course), which makes it an interesting war drama. But afterwards I didn't think it was that innovative, so to speak. It's the superb performances which nevertheless left a deep impression. The clichéd plot twists are not shunned, and what remains is a conservative adaptation of a manuscript left by a real war victim, Irène Némirovsky.

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Nice war romance
fill259089 January 2016
War time is not easy, particularly for lovers, the stronger the love is, the bitter they will feel. That's how French village girl Lucile and German lieutenant Bruno linked together, they are not just linked by second world war but also piano, the cruelest thing and the most beautiful thing in the world simultaneously, different from the other WWII war films, Suite Francaise showed a warm German heart under the cold uniform, perhaps that's reason the officer's name is Bruno Von Falk, "Von" reminded people his German side, but Bruno is a typical Italian name -- here the officer already lost half of his coldness, and his piano composer background causing his sensitive character covers his solider's duty particularly when it is peaceful war time, the Chopin taste piano piece pulling submissive Lucile into his emotion world: a little bit sad, a little bit helpless, a little bit romantic... Any women would just love this character, after knowing the movie is based on Ukrainian Jewish author Irène Némirovsky same name novel, people might wonder what really happened to the author so that she wrote such a beautiful story.

Madame Angellier (Kristin Scott Thomas) is another shining character in the movie, she was mean as much as Grandet, as the war going deep into the peaceful village life, she changes as much as Lucile and other villagers like Joseph couple, Madeline family etc.
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