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Dreaming of France: Michelle Williams as Lucile in Suite Française*

Suite Française stars Michelle Williams as Lucile Angellier and Mattias Schoenaerts as Bruno Von Falk.

While Suite Française* sits on my bookshelf, spine still sharp from being mostly unread, this image from the upcoming film adaptation of Irene Nemirovsky's novel is kicking me in the tush to get going. The film has finished shooting and, as discussed in my last Suite Francaise post, will focus on Dolce, the second part of Nemirovsky's book. 

Here's the official synopsis - 
Set in 1940s France and based on the international best-selling work of Irène Némirovsky, SUITE FRANÇAISE follows beautiful Lucile Angellier who awaits news from her husband, a prisoner of war whilst leading a stifled existence with her domineering mother-in-law. When Parisian refugees pour into their small town, soon followed by a regiment of German soldiers who take up residence in the villagers' homes, Lucile’s life is turned upside down.  In the Angellier home, Lucile initially tries to ignore Bruno, the handsome and refined German officer who has been posted to live with them.  But soon, a powerful love draws them together and traps them in the tragedy of war.

Skipping ahead in my reading from the first part 'Storm in June' and straight to Dolce, I was struck by Nemirovsky's description of Lucile -  
"Lucile was a young woman -- beautiful, blonde, with dark eyes, but a quite, modest demeanor and "a faraway expression," for which Madame Angellier reproached her."

How is Michelle Williams not perfect for this part?  She is, except for the Frenchy factor. Since they have chosen to cast, how do you say, an Américaine, for the part of Lucile, she has to NAIL the accent. I'm all for actors challenging themselves but they have to be up to that challenge. I'm a fan for instance, of Aussies playing Yanks because in instances too numerous to mention they nail it; it doesn't even cross our minds that Russell Crowe and Naomi Watts and Joel Edgerton didn't grow up 'around here', leaving us to focus our attention where it belongs, on the story. Ms. Williams has to do the same. Which I think she's entirely capable of; knowing the intense preparation process she's prone to following I wouldn't be surprised to learn she rented a French villa and immerse herself in capturing as much French essence as possible. 

Mattias Schoenarts:  in Suite Francaise

While there is sure to be a dark edge, the power of their love is fueled by a powerful initial attraction. Here's how Nemirovsky describes Lucile's feelings at the first real sight of Bruno.
"He was young, slim, with beautiful hands and wide eyes. She noticed how beautiful his hands were because he was holding the door of the house open for her. He was wearing an engraved ringwith a dark, opaque stone, a ray of sunshine appeared between two clouds, causing a purple flash to spring off the ring, it lit up his complexion, rosy from the fresh air and as down as a lovely piece of fruit growing on a trellis. His cheekbones were high, strong but delicate, his mouth chiseled and proud. Lucile, in spite of herself, walked more slowly; she couldn't stop looking at his large, delicate hand, his long fingers (she imagined him holding a heavy black revolver, or a machine- gun or a grenade, any weapon that metes out death indifferently), she studied the green uniform (how many Frenchmen, on watch all night, hiding in the darkness of the undergrowth had looked out for that same uniform?) and sparkling clean boots."
That's a pretty conflicted description, clearly painting an attraction - 'she couldn't stop looking' which already torments her -'how many Frenchmen ... had looked out for that same uniform'.  I haven't read beyond this point but surely, this can't end well. Can it? I can't wait for the film to find out; I'll have to finish the book first!
Saul Dibb ("The Duchess") wrote and directed with a strong supporting cast that includes Ruth Wilson ("The Lone Ranger," "Anna Karenina"), Margot Robbie ("The Wolf of Wall Street"), Alexandra Maria Lara ("Rush," "Youth Without Youth"), Tom Schilling, Eileen Atkins, and Lambert Wilson.

Frankly, another gorgeous score from Alexandre Desplat is a huge part of the allure for me. Desplat's work is close to perfection as multiple nominations for his compositions make clear. Check out the lengthy list on Desplats' own web page.  Tune into Desplat's music on the current trailer for the upcoming Wes Anderson film Grand Budapest Hotel. He matches Anderson's whimsical direction punch for punch.  Enjoy!

Grand Budapest Hotel Trailer - Length 2:00

I can't wait to see hear what he does with Suite Francaise !

If you love French life and culture in the current day, check in with Dreaming of France, the French-themed meme hosted every Monday by Paulita Kincer, author of Summer in France.  
* No doubt you're irritated by the lack of proper French punctuation in my post; me too. I've gotta figure it out, I know it's probably super simple.  Suggestions welcomed! 
* By George I think I've got it - it's all about Options.