In 1941, the novelist Irène Némirovsky began writing a five part series, a sprawling narrative about life in Nazi-occupied France. Despite conversion to Roman Catholicism, she was arrested by the Nazis for being a Jew. Her tragic death at Auschwitz meant that the project was never completed but over half a century later, her daughter rediscovered the manuscript and published it to great acclaim in 2004.
Suite Française: movie
Now director Saul Dibb has adapted the novel for the cinema. Lucille Angellier (Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain, Synecdoche, New York) is a resident of a small French town whose husband has been taken as a prisoner of war. When the town comes under occupation a German soldier Bruno Von Faulk, (Mathias Shoenaerts), takes residence in her house and unlikely and dangerous romance blossoms between the two. Michelle Williams, Kristin Scott Thomas and margot Robbie also star.
Director Saul Dibb
This is a vital and unsettling love story set against a devastating conflict – made all the more virulent for those who know the story was written during the period in which it is set. Director Saul Dibb has only released two other films to date: 2004’s Bullet Boy and 2008’s The Duchess.
Suite Française review
Suite Française brings Irene Nemirovsky’s novel stylishly to life. Rather focusing solely on the forbidden romance between the two leads, the film interweaves the different narrative threads within this small French town with a wide lens, addressing the complex emotions of patriotism and treason.
The power of Irene Nemirovsky's imaginative and fascinating novel sets Suite Française apart from generic blockbuster romances, whilst it's also consistently underscored by the presence of the writer, and the tragic irony of Nemirovsky’s own fate. For English and American audiences Suite Française will have a unique resonance: whilst French literature and cinema has often returned to the habitual reality of life under occupation, wartime films in Britain have never fully addressed the subject on such a detailed and convincingly mundane level.
Suite Française cast
Michelle Williams is flawless and perfectly cast in the demur lead role. Where the narration is, at times, a little cloying, her character's strength and wartime femininity makes her a completely empathetic and convincing character – Williams seems made for this period. Whilst the casting of Margot Robbie in this supporting role might be slightly dubious, strong performances from the film's two lead women – Kristin Scott Thomas is captivating as always, albeit in a role she's played before – Suite Française is a powerful epic of forbidden romance – yet the real tragedy of Nemirovsky’s novel is in the truth behind the fiction. ★★★★★
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
13 Mar 15 – 30 May 15, 7:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here for the IMDb page|