Archives for posts with tag: lambert wilson

I’m going to be unfair to this movie, because I’ve read the novel by Irène Némirovsky, which is brilliant. Suite Française was written during the war, before Némirovsky was murdered by the Nazis, and, though unfinished, it has a much broader and clearer vision of humanity than the film does. It follows, among others, a middle-class family whose son is away at the fighting as they flee Paris, an aging bon-vivant who sticks to his champagne amid the German bombs, an absolutely awful matron of late middle age who values her silver more than people, and a young married lady in the country in whose house an officer of the Wehrmacht is billeted.

MV5BMTczMjg3MzQ0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDYyNzY4NDE@._V1_UY268_CR4,0,182,268_AL_The movie, naturally, concentrates on the last grouping, because there’s the most smooching in it. Lucile Angellier (Michelle Williams) is unhappily married; luckily her husband is a POW, but unluckily her mother-in-law (Kristin Scott Thomas) is around to be unpleasant to her. When the Germans invade, Lieutenant Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts) is put up in their house. He is polite, has a nice dog, and can play the piano. Lucile lacks a personality entirely.

Meanwhile, the mayor, Viscount Montmort (Lambert Wilson) and his wife (Harriet Walter) are trying to accommodate themselves to reality; a horrible German officer (Tom Schilling) is billeted on a farm belonging to the Labaries (Sam Riley and Ruth Wilson), which ends about as well as you’d think; a Jewish woman (Alexandra Maria Lara) and her daughter are…there.

This movie is stupid and melodramatic. You don’t need to add pathos to the Nazi invasion of France, or insulting inanities to Némirovsky’s novel. I suppose that, once one has hired the extremely handsome Mr. Schoenaerts, one feels he ought to be on screen, but every other story in the novel is more interesting than Lucile’s and Bruno’s, and less well-trodden.

Director: Saul Dibb
Rating: around PG-13
Length: 107 minutes
Score: 2/5

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It’s always hard to tell what’s going to happen in a movie about Ireland during the Troubles, or I guess at any other time, too. It might be completely miserable and heart-wrenching and make you watch someone’s fingernails get pulled out (The Wind that Shakes the Barley, e.g.), or it might be political and stirring (Michael Collins) or, apparently, it might be drippy and asinine, like The Last September.

In this film, it is 1920, and Lord and Lady Naylor (Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith) are landed gentry in Ireland; their sympathies are with the English, as is entirely logical. Staying with them is their more-or-less orphaned niece, Lois (Keeley Hawes), whom a young British army officer (a Captain Colthurst, played by David Tennant with an efficient mustache) loves to distraction. Rounding out the house-party are Mr. and Mrs. Montmorency (Lambert Wilson and somebody) and Marda Norton (Fiona Shaw).

This could have been a moderately intelligent film about the death of empire, or what happens to people like the Naylors when their world ceases to exist, or even about the IRA. But it wasn’t. Instead it was a stupid movie about a love triangle, consisting of Lois, poor Colthurst, and a Peter Connelly (Gary Lydon), who might be a member of some revolutionary organization but generally seems to be a free-lance murderer. Now, I hate plots driven by love triangles, because they usually involve somebody being stupid or cruel or both, and so it’s hard to feel any empathy. And it’s worse when the love triangle is frankly absurd, as this one is. Lois apparently grew up with Peter, and harbors tender feelings, but all we see him do is shoot a Black & Tan in the head and try to rape Lois twice (maybe I misread the situation both times, but I don’t think so, and if I did… the director maybe should have made different choices). Now, Black & Tans were horrible, and this one was carefully set up to be hateful, but even so that’s not really a love affair with a future. Colthurst, for his part, is poor and comes from no family at all, but he’s very much in love with Lois and even his mustache is just achingly honest and dutiful.

So of course she prefers Peter, because she is an idiot, and of course she won’t actually give Colthurst his walking papers, because she is cruel, and of course this ends in literally the worst possible way, because, as I said, she is an idiot.

Otherwise Mr. Montmorency and Miss Norton are in love and it’s a bit sad, and Maggie Smith, as is apparently her job, refuses to believe that her world is changing.

Notes:

  • Lambert Wilson’s English is perfect. When he came onto the screen I thought, “He looks awfully French in general and like the Merovingian in particular but it couldn’t be he.” It is.
  • Keeley Hawes is always playing these parts, but she remains likable. Not here, obviously, but it won’t put me off her in future. Also, her fringe is a disaster.
  • Conversely, David Tennant has a lot of ground to make up with me, because “Doctor Who” became unbearable during his incumbency, but this helped, rather. He was just so lost looking and affecting. Well, and the uniform.

Director: Deborah Warner
Rating: R
Length: 103 min.
Score: 1/5.