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DVD Review – Suite Française

2 min read

Suite Française is a tale of forbidden love in desperate times. Desperate to soldier on while the war rages on around them, Lucile Angellier (Michelle Williams) and her controlling mother-in-law Madame Angellier (Kristen Scott Thomas) make the rounds and try to keep their daily lives as normal as possible. But when the Germans arrive, families are asked to take in a soldier while they occupy the town. When Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts) arrives at the Angellier home, he is polite and as accommodating as possible under the circumstances. Under the watchful eye of Madame Angellier, Lucile tries to ignore Bruno but their mutual love of music and Bruno’s kindness breaks down the barrier and the two begin to fall in love.

Suite Francaise psBut their time together is full of tension and confusion. Lucile is torn between her feelings for Bruno and his position in the German Army. She tries to convince her self the German’s are no worse than their own troops, but she is still torn by her allegiances. But as their relationship develops, Lucile becomes the go-to girl for her neighbours in trouble, some of them knowing the kindness of the soldier living with them. Bruno goes above and beyond his duties to help protect the people she asks him to, sometimes risking his own safety.

There are endless films, books and stories of forbidden love between soldiers and women during wars. At times of great uncertainty, the best love stories can be written. Suite Française is nothing ground breaking, or new, but it is a beautiful story. Based on the best selling book of the same name by Irène Nèmirovsky, a Jewish author who died in Auschwitz in 1942, Suite Française is filled with heartbreak and devastation, but also with love.

Suite Française wraps you up in the story of Lucile and Bruno, and carries you along until you are completely engulfed in their relationship and then spits you out at the other end. Because nothing can end well when there is a war on. Williams and Schoenaerts’ onscreen chemistry is fiery and passionate but in a modest 1940’s kind of way. Kristen Scott Thomas is solid and a little bit scary in her portrayal of a desperate mother trying to make it through every day with the hope of seeing her son again.

Suite Française is gripping, charming, and filled with wonderful performances. The film gives exposure to the many faceted sides of World War II, with mean and ruthless soldiers but also the kind of duty filled men there to honour and serve their family, not the Führer.  It is a tale of love between two people at a time of uncertainty, which in my opinion, is a formula for the best romance films.