Another free preview screening, thanks to those nice people at Times+
Somehow everything tastes sweeter, feels better, looks sharper if it’s free. You feel like you’ve won a small victory in the middle of a long and challenging life, inevitably laden with more losses than wins. A bit like Millwall FC, if they were ever awarded a walk-over for someone playing an ineligible player against them.
So here we were on a Monday night at Guildford Odeon, along with a load of other grey-haired Times readers, spontaneously watching a movie for which we’d seen an enticing trailer just a couple of days earlier.
Gill had read the book, written by Irène Némirovsky, a few years ago. It’s an incomplete book, written in real time as the author, a Russian Jew, lived through the German occupation of France in the Second World War. It’s incomplete because she died in Auschwitz, and the manuscript only surfaced many decades later.
The movie must inevitably take a few liberties with the original text, in order to get it onto the silver screen….but Gill reckons the conversion has worked well.
It’s essentially a love story, but also makes some sharp observations about loyalty, betrayal, self-preservation and other very human emotions when the natural order of a small, rural community is put through a tumble-dryer.
A great cast tells the story well. Kristin Scott Thomas plays a buttoned-up French lady of a certain age to perfection. The versatile Michelle Williams is her daughter-in-law, caught in a moral maze. And relative newcomer Matthias Schoenaerts is the reluctant German officer, a musician rather than a soldier and trapped between love and duty.
Poignant, romantic, sad and yet ultimately hopeful that not everyone is destroyed by war.
A nice escape on a Monday night. Especially as it was free.