Suite Francaise: Film Review

The poster and trailer make Suite Francaise look like an incredibly powerful and moving romance drama set during the German occupation in France. Only the latter part of that sentence is true and the romance side is neither powerful or moving, which was a total letdown as I had gone in expecting a story which would break my heart.

Michelle Williams play Lucile, a French villager living with her mother-in-law (Kristin Scott Thomas) as they wait for their husband/son to return from the war. As the Nazis roll into town, they are forced to give a room to a soldier named Bruno (Matthias Schoenaerts) and Lucile soon finds herself attracted to the man.


The ‘will they/won’t they’ portion of the film is incredibly predictable but what happens afterwards was surprising as the story veered away from focussing on the romance. It was the backbone of the film but towards the end it became mostly about Lucile hiding a fugitive villager (Sam Riley) who is wanted for killing a Nazi. This plot was exciting and you don’t know what will happen and there is a true sense of danger towards the climax.

However, it totally fails on the romance front. I put the term ‘love’ in quotes but I never truly felt like they were. It was too fleeting. I feel it was simply attraction as they were both in the same house and lonely. But the film marketing tries to overhype it. They have a connection and strong bond, sure, but love? I don’t think so.


I liked watching the power play between French homeowners and their German guests and Bruno’s struggle between being loyal to the Nazi cause and his bond with Lucile. There is a dramatic death sequence that was brilliant and probably the only reason it was given a 15. But it did fail in other areas – casting Margot Robbie as a dowdy, poor villager was laughable because you know how stunning she is under that awful wig and make-up, Lucile’s narration was quite clichéd and simply didn’t work and the Germans used German accents but the French people used English ones. It did move quite slowly at times, except in the key scenes I mentioned, and I would have liked more of Ruth Wilson.

It was nice to see Williams back on screen as I feel she’s been away for ages. Lucile is not a helpless woman but she can also be quite annoying. How we should feel towards the Nazis is quite ambiguous and Schoenaerts stood out as Bruno seemed more convincing in his love for Lucile, more human and truly conflicted. It’s such a shame the romance was overplayed in the marketing because it did not work. It is a great tale of war but in the grand spectrum of World War II movies this doesn’t stand out.


Released Friday

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