When considering war, the military strategy and major political groups involved tend to feature strongly in our preconceptions, however, Suite Française, set in WWII, chooses not to explore the tactics of war. Instead, the film delves into the effect such conflicts have on civilians: the residents of a small French town occupied by the German military, resulting in many townsfolk being forced to accommodate German soldiers within their homes.
The main focus is indeed the fragile-but-burgeoning relationship between Lucille Angellier (Michelle Williams) and Commander Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts), but Suite Française also seeks to depict the humanity that can sometimes be revealed in an enemy. Despite cultural divides, both death and war are fundamentally processed in the same way, and solidarity can be found in even the most unsuspected places.
The stories of the supporting cast are all equally as important as the leads: Ruth Wilson is particularly excellent as Madeleine, Lucille’s much less wealthy friend, whose German lodger causes a rift in her life. Desperation, loyalty, anger, flirtation and deceit all have their part to play in this romance. Suite Française is an impressive and poignant portrayal of the civilian wartime experience of that era.
Suite Française is released nationwide on 13th March 2015.
Watch the trailer for Suite Française here: