Friday, 20 March 2015

REVIEW - SUITE FRANCAISE (SAUL DIBB)


Melodrama needs not lack subtlety - it may, at times, benefit stylistically from such a lack, but it's no necessity. It needs not sacrifice depth for breadth, either. Even as it is, shorn of what could have been a more expansive resolution or perhaps even many more chapters of the French experience during WWII, Suite Francaise boasts a terrific story. Irene Nemirovsky's skills may have been translated into this film's shortcomings, however - this is too respectful, too tasteful an adaptation. With indifferent bluster, Saul Dibb dutifully covers all his bases, delivering decent dramatics with a familiarly overblown overtone, insisting on the gravity of his material rather than actually trying to engender it. If the intention was to craft a film devoted to love and beauty, and their quiet resilience under immense duress, his own expression is too quiet and his focus shaken by his curiously casual interest in supporting storylines. I appreciate Dibb's ambitious vision, but I consistently felt like I ought to have cared more, and was never afforded any opportunity to invest anything significant in what are undeniably stirring stories. Thus, Suite Francaise is a paragon of handsomeness, as respectable as it is respectful, but no more. The acting is strong - Michelle Williams can always be relied upon to disappear completely into character, Ruth Wilson gives yet another spirited performance, Kristin Scott Thomas dispenses one particularly devastating tearful glare that'll knock your stockings off. All the women, yes: Suite Francaise's finest feature is that it is unapologetically, unremarkably (that's the key, you see) feminist.