I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
I used to be very against watching “films for girls” when I was growing up. To me, watching anything based on the works of Jane Austen was the height of immasculation. Since then I’ve grown up. I’ve realised that just because the protagonist of a film happens to be a woman, or that the story is based around romance, it can still be a masterpiece. So if the boys and men around the world take anything out of this, please remember that even if a film is “girly”, its execution may be a stroke of genius.
Suite Française is a movie based on the novel by Irène Némirovsky about a young woman (Michelle Williams) in Nazi-Occupied-France falling in love with a German officer (Matthias Schoenaerts) staying in her home.
There’s little in this movie I can point out as being wrong in this film.
Its acting is very good, particularly from Kristin Scott Thomas as the protagonist’s strong-willed mother-in-law and I really like the way the two romantic leads are able to keep a great deal of their struggles a mystery to the audience.
I really enjoyed the idea that it put across whereby you cannot place absolute trust in the honour of your neighbours, particularly during war-time. And despite the premise sounding way too poetic and non-realistic, the way the plot unravels, it all seems plausible.
Any issues I have with this film stem from nit-picks that any film can suffer from that would be pointless for me to shake my finger at, and subjective issues.
Art, as we all know, is subjective. There is no one book that states that you have to do this in order to get an emotional response from the audience. As a filmmaker (if I can call myself that) there are simply things in Suite Française that I would have done differently.
For one, the protagonist in the film provides voice-over exposition that is not really needed until the end. This may sound strange to those who know that I adore Martin Scorsese’s use of voice-over in his films. The difference here is that Scorsese knows how to make the narration feel like an organic extension of the visuals and Michelle William’s voice does not feel that way here.
However, once the film ends, we are given some background on the novel on which the film is based and the tragedy surrounding it. So I can see the narration as being a tribute to the writing in the story, much in the same way the narration was handled in the mixed bag that was 2013’s The Great Gatsby.
There are some other, minor, things I would have done differently if I had the job of directing this film.
I would have liked this movie to have been in black and white, to resemble the films of the 1940s, the time period of the story. And I would have liked to see this film made in the language of the characters.
The latter is an issue I have with a number of movies set in places around the world. I do understand the director wanting the western audience to sympathise more greatly with the characters and that can be done by having them speak English. There’s also the issue of marketing. Not that many people want to read subtitles throughout the run-time of a movie, or at least will not want to try it.
Both these things are preferences of mine and they are just as much creative, subjective decisions as adding camera shake to a shot in a particular scene as opposed to keeping it still and I will defend to the death the right for a director to make that decision, even if I don’t agree with it.
All in all, I really liked this superb romantic film.
Recommended Scenario: When you’re on a date. Unfortunately, I was forced to watch this film alone.
If what I have written tells you that you would like this film, you can book tickets to see it at your local Cineworld here.