Saul Dibb’s Suite Française is an enjoyable WWII-set romantic drama. It’s a well crafted film which hits all the right emotional beats, without ever being truly captivating.
Matthias Schoenaerts is Bruno von Falk, a German Officer positioned in the village of Bussy who starts a love affair with the married Lucille Angellier (Michelle Williams ). The relationship is made even more complex because it’s under the watchful eye of Lucille’s domineering mother-in-law (Kristen Scott Thomas).
Based on Irène Némirovsky’s posthumously published novel, Suite Française is a well-intentioned wartime romance. However, like most novels adapted for the screen, it feels like there’s something missing from the narrative. Many of the events take place because they must, rather than being fully explained within the narrative context. It’s understandable, but extra detail would make it feel much more developed.
Suite Française really scores on a performance level. Schoenaerts and Williams share some great chemistry and they sell the love story at the heart of the film. Kristen Scott Thomas does yet another late-period ice maiden performance, that’s well acted but never fully formed. Dibb’s film also has an interesting supporting cast made-up of Sam Riley, Ruth Wilson, Margot Robbie and Lambert Wilson. Each has a moment to shine but again they never feel fully fleshed-out.
Saul Dibb’s film is a handsome production and the film certainly looks authentic. Cinematographer Eduard Grau also gives the film an earthy look and both help assist Rael Jone’s sweeping score, which adds to the emotionality of the story. This is all brought together in a classical way which gives Suite Française an old-fashioned sensibility.
Suite Française is a film that delivers on its promise of being an absorbing romantic drama. It may not break new ground but it’ll satisfy those who want to see a well acted film with heart-stirring moments.