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In a small town in the West of France, during the German Occupation, a room is requisitioned by a Wehrmacht captain, Werner von Ebrennac. The house where he now stays is inhabited by young ... See full summary »
France, 1940. In the first days of occupation, beautiful Lucile Angellier (Michelle Williams) is trapped in a stifled existence with her controlling mother-in-law, Madame Angellier (Dame Kristin Scott Thomas), as they both await news of her husband: a prisoner of war. Parisian refugees start to pour into their small town, soon followed by a regiment of German soldiers who take up residence in the villagers' own houses. Lucile initially tries to ignore Lieutenant Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts), the handsome and refined German officer staying with them. But soon, a powerful love draws them together and leads them into the tragedy of war.Written by
Dame Kristin Scott Thomas (Madame Angellier) and Harriet Walter (Viscountess de Montmort) portrayed Sir Winston Churchill's wife Clementine: Thomas in Darkest Hour (2017), and Walter in The Crown (2016). See more »
The comment citing the mentions in the film of French dying in Normandy as a factual error is wrong. The French and British were engaged in ferocious fighting with the Germans in Normandy in 1940, following the evacuation at Dunkirk. So the references in the film to Frenchmen dying in Normandy are in fact correct. See more »
There Is Another Untold Story Within This Interesting Work
There's a story behind this movies existence that is as interesting as the film itself. It's disappointing to know that scenes involving the original story writers daughter (played by veteran Eileen Atkins) were deleted prior to the films release. Unfortunately, all that's left of these scenes is a montage of pages from her mothers original manuscript shown under the end credits - using these notes in this way can prove a little confusing for those unaware of the origins of these writings - as it tends to appear as if the films story was based on factual characters (while I'm sure many were indeed based on very real people and for the most part the instances portrayed were founded on some terrible historical facts).
The author of the original story, Irene Nemirovsky, was tragically sent to her death at the hands of the invading German army following bitter fighting during the occupation of France in 1942. Her husband, before he also was executed, gave their daughter Denise his wife's manuscripts. Denise, for emotional reasons did not read her mother's writings till an astounding 60yrs later. She eventually had them compiled into a novel that was published in 2002 - becoming an international best seller. Story rights were then sold for production as a screenplay. Denise sadly died just before the films release. To play the main protagonist producers cast Michele Williams (My week With Marilyn '11) mother to the late Heath Ledgers daughter. Considering some of William's earlier roles she is nothing short of remarkable - turning in a convincingly measured performance as the repressed Lucile Angellier.
This is more than a conventional wartime romantic movie as it deals realistically with the shocking impact of oppression and the devastating consequences it brings to all involved. Perhaps had the film makers paid a little less attention to the screenplays various sexual intrigues, they may have been able to treat us to those deleted scenes detailing the fascinating real life story - involving the writers daughter discovering her mothers work all those years after the event!. Director and co-screenplay writer Saul Dibb along with collaborating writer Matt Charman - join forces with director of photography Eduard Grau to create some remarkably atmospheric scenes. One well executed sequence featuring endless lines of displaced French families fleeing the relentless onslaught on foot, is a sad and dramatic sight.
Those who remain in their homes are met with enforced billeting of German Officers - this brings out the worst of human nature with neighboring villagers sending notes 'rating' on their fellow neighbor's to gain favour from the Germans - a shocking act indeed. Music plays a key role throughout the film with a romantic piano soliloquy composed by Alexandre Desplate played throughout. The exciting accompanying action score is contributed by Rael Jones. Overall this is a sincere portrait of a dreadful time in human history and while the the script may falter in several situations it's far more thoughtful than some other offerings along these lines. Performances are strong with a sterling cast of professionals working at their peak.
Note: This film is remarkably similar to an earlier production, staring the great Maria Schell "So Little Time" '52" - this marvelous classic film has recently been released on DVD in England and is more than well worth locating.
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