Matthias Schoenaerts and Michelle Williams in “Suite Française” 2014. IMDb photo

Despite the millions of stories about World War II, new ones, some recently discovered, keep popping up.

“Suite Française,” directed by Saul Dibb (“Journey’s End,” 2017) is based on the late Irène Némirovsky’s novel about the German occupation of the small, village of Bussy, which by this time, 1942, had its hands full of fleeing Parisians.

Why any Frenchman would leave Paris to go to Bussy, is left unexplained.

But here, as always in these tales, the Germans come to stay, with tanks and guns and an assortment of misbehaving hoodlums and the occasional good one.

With Paris having just fallen, into town comes the fearsome Wehrmacht with all of the usual noisy baggage, including, wouldn’t you know it, a handsome officer, Bruno von Falk, Matthias Schoenaerts, (Hans Axgil in “The Danish Girl” 2015 and Uncle Vanya in the intense sexual spy-drama “Red Sparrow” 2018).

Don’t you miss the old Hollywood, where someone like Matthias would have the cumbersome name changed to “Rock,” “Jett” or “Tab?”


Bruno is an officer who is moved into the home of Madame Angellier (Kristin Scott Thomas), a middle-aged angst ridden land lady.

The Madame is the property owner of most of the humble villager’s homes. She collect rents from these folks, is no favorite in town and enjoys few friends.

She lives quietly with her lovely daughter Lucile (Michelle Williams), the wife of a soldier afar. She spends the days keeping a diary and playing the piano. Until she meets their new tenant.

“Suite” begins as the usual “poor us, the Germans are here” and for much of the film, wears that tiresome mantle, but lucky for us, it has Williams, and the camera of Eduard Grau.

Are we surprised, that among the cinematic brutal German warriors, there were so many musically inclined? (“The Pianist” 2002 film with Adrien Brody).

Of course, with a lovely French girl just down the hall, Matthias (I can’t bring myself to spelling Schoenaerts any further), love must bloom. Even in war love comes each year with the dandelions.


Lucile has a husband somewhere in a prison camp, but it turns out he was a bit of a lout when he was in Paris, so love, as it will, blooms.

Unbeknownst to our officer, Benoit Labarie, a pro resistance communist, (Sam Riley) is hiding in the Angellier woodwork.

One thing will lead to another and it does.

Lucile falls in love with von Falk, but she has to take Benoit through the lines to Paris, so he can join the resistance.

This is where things go awry. Lucile is already shunned by the populace for being nice to von Falk, and she makes it worse by wheedling a border pass to visit sick relatives in Paris, from von Falk with whom she has been more than musical.

Off Lucile goes with Benoit, suffering with a bad leg, in the trunk of her car, the first place even a rookie cop from Toledo, Ohio, would look, and a tampered permission pass in her bag.


Unfortunately a junior officer, suspecting von Falk, added a note to the past.

Happy to say the cast is brightened with the addition of Ruth Wilson, who, since “The Affair” has had trouble getting noticed, and the lovely misused Margot Robbie.

The real story here is about the author herself, Irène Némirovsky, a Ukrainian Jewish writer who had fled Paris early and moved to seclusion in Burgundy where she wrote the novel that was discovered many years later.

“Suite” the movie, was written by Saul Dibb and Matt Charman.

“Suite Francise” streams on Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+.


J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.