Irène Némirovsky unfinished novel Suite Francaise was written to be intended as a five part “suite”. Unfortunately she was able to write just the first two of them: Storm in June and Dolce before she was arrested as a Jew and sent to Auschwitz in July 1942. Her two daughters survived the war, keeping the manuscript in a suitcase. It was not transcribed and published until 2004 becoming a worldwide sensation.
Saul Dibb (The Duchess) movie focuses almost exclusively on the second movement, Dolce. It’s here that the touching love story between Lucile and Bruno is told.
France, 1940, the early years of German occupation of France in World War II. When soldiers arrive in the small town Bussy, the young Lucile Angellier and her mother in law are obliged to accommodate in their house the German officer Bruno von Falk, a former composer who has already lost two brothers in the war.A sensitive man, often isolated who prefers the company of his dog (found abandoned in one of the conquered towns) instead the company of his soldiers. With each passing month, under the disapproval eye of Madame Angellier, their souls come together creating a heartbreaking love story that will lead them to difficult choices of duty, love and moral principles.
The movie is touching and the cast is superb: Michelle Williams is perfect as the unhappy, fragile but at the end also strong and caring Lucile Angellier, Matthias Schoenaerts conquers your heart minute by minute in an outstanding interpretation and Kristin Scott Thomas…well I always wonder if there are in the dictionary words enough great to describe her and, actually, I don’t think so.
True, it’s a too English movie and the only really French thing are few shooting in the North of France; French characters speak unaccented English even if they are from very different classes, the Germans speak German, which is subtitled talking to each other and then they speak English with a German accent when talking to the French people.
And yes, maybe an open ending, without references to a future that Irène Némirovsky has never known it would have been more acceptable.
But, although probably based on true events, it is still a film that we’re talking about and his task is to bring a story straight to the heart of the audience. Saul Dibb, with his fantastic cast and a wonderful soundtrack written by Rael Jones (Les Miserables, Wild Child) has fully achieved the goal and the applause at the end of the London Gala Screening yesterday evening at the May Fair Hotel was the proof of it.
And, if you want more, to address what cinema should negotiate, there is always the option of getting lost in the beautiful pages of Suite Francaise when you leave the cinema.
“But what is certain is that in five, ten, twenty years, this problem unique to our time, according to him, will no longer exist, it will be replaced by others…Yet this music, the sound of this rain on the windows, the great mournful creaking of the cedar tree in the garden outside, this moment, so tender, so strange in the middle of war, this will never change, not this, this is forever”
Link to our Facebook page: Introduction before the screening