24 June 2020 | Partnerfrankreich
Surprisingly good and effective
It is the 80th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's famous "Appeal of 18th June" speech on the BBC and, even though this film originally came out in March, it was interrupted by the COVID-19 crisis and has just returned to the cinema literally in time for the anniversary.
I was expecting a sort of Hollywood-style hagiography but I was very pleasantly surprised. Lambert Wilson, one of France's finest actors, plays De Gaullle in a very nuanced manner, and you never really can decide whether he is motivated solely by a desire to save France from defeat and dishonor or whether, as his enemies in the film claim, he is guided by ambition and a desire to make a name for himself -- but in either case, he was, like Churchill, the right man in the right place at the right time, symbolizing the determination of at least some French to resist the invader at all costs. Isabelle Carré also does a stunning turn as Yvonne de Gaulle, who for the French public occupied a place similar to that of Mamie Eisenhower.
In fact, there isn't a single actor who doesn't do a sterling job in this film, and that goes double for the girl who plays their Down's syndrome stricken daughter, Anne, who steals every scene she is in.
The real Charles de Gaulle was no saint - he gave little credit to the efforts of the Americans, British and Canadians in liberating France and considered them as little more than another sort of occupying power, and his undiplomatic, even crude speech in Quebec supporting the separatist movement was an amazing slap in the face of his Canadian hosts. But there is no denying that he was first and foremost a patriot in the true sense of the term, and this film shows him, warts and all, in just such a manner.