Suite Française [2015] ★★★


If there can be such a thing as a sweet, reflective fable about love during WWII, “Suite Française” is it. Based on the best selling novel by Irène Némirovsky, who perished in Auschwitz in 1942 before she could finish her book (her daughter finally took care of it and published it in 2004 to worldwide acclaim), the film tells the story of Lucile (Michelle Williams), a woman living with her mother-in-law (Kristin Scott Thomas) in a small french town, while her soldier husband is away at the front. Things get complicated when Germans invade this peaceful town and Lucile meets a refined German officer called Bruno (Matthias Schoenaerts). A bond grows, and some valuable and important life lessons are learned. The simplicity of Irène Némirovsky’s novel seems a drawback at first. But skilled director Saul Dibb (“The Duchess”) slowly, effectively draws us in. Williams, an underrated actress, gives a touching, vital performance. And Kirsten Scott Thomas (who is always worth watching), does a fine job as well. “Suite Française” walks on familiar ground, to be sure, but it never seems shopworn. The situations are realistic, the moral choices genuine, and the emotions honestly portrayed. I found it extremely moving. There should be a place for compelling, adult drama, even during blockbuster season.

Rating: 3/4

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