Suite Francaise is the second film we have seen this year to be set in one of the world wars. Firstly we had Testament of Youth which focused on World War I and now we have Suite Francaise which concentrates on World War II. I did enjoy Testament of Youth, and I thought that it was a good film, however for me there was too much attention given to the romance element of that story. I was worried this too may be the case for Suite Francaise.
Much to my surprise this was not a problem at all as the romance element to this film is simply one aspect among many. The romance element itself was done well too, it wasn’t done in laboured or awkward way, it felt real and it wasn’t a drag to watch. This was due to the rest of the film being so engaging, basically the romance story was set in amongst a scenario that made it interesting to watch. Suite Francaise surrounds its main plot with the backdrop of war and all that it brings meaning that anyone interested in this period of history should find the film enjoyable. I certainly enjoyed gaining a perspective on war that I hadn’t previously seen. Naturally this meant that there were moments of action too, now don’t misinterpret me when I say that. Please don’t expect big action set pieces but instead look forward to the number of scenes in which moments of action are showcased well. Some of the opening scenes were amongst my favourite for this reason. The score for the film enhances every aspect of the film too, whether it is used in conjunction with moments of tension or emotion it always manages to set the scene and draw you into the events on screen.
All the performances are good here, Kristin Scott Thomas will make you wonder who the real villain of the film is. Could it be the character she plays, a controlling mother-in-law or is it in fact the central German soldier who falls for the leading lady? Suite Francaise does have a few issues though, at points I did find it slightly unauthentic due to the fact that the predominant language being spoken was English. I felt that because it was set in France, more of the native language should have been used. Although the film does well in terms of the romance element there are a few pacing problems near the middle or the film however these are only a real problem for about ten minutes, after this the film recovers well too. Finally, at the end of the film some facts appear about the author of the novel this film is based on, unfortunately these facts disappear almost as quickly as they appear meaning that you struggle to read them and you are left feeling a little unsatisfied. However, as I say these were only minor issues and apart from them I really enjoyed this movie, surprisingly so.
Suite Francaise has successfully managed to tell a romance story in an interesting and engaging fashion. The backdrop of World War I is used well and the use of action in small amounts really improves this film. Combined with a very effective score and a competent cast this film easily entertains providing enjoyment for a wide spectrum of viewers.
Rating – 8.5/10