20 August 2017 | hof-4
Life between the wars
Irène Némirovsky was born in 1903 in Kiev, then in the Russian Empire, now in the Ukraine. Her family was wealthy and fled Russia at the start of the 1917 revolution, settling in France after a year in Finland. Némirovsky began her literary career with the novel David Golder (1929), which became an immediate success and was made into a movie a year later; her next novel Le Bal (1930) was again a hit and she became a respected member of the French literary scene.
Némirovsky was Jewish. She was arrested in July 1942 by the Vichy police, taken to the assembly camp at Phitiviers and then shipped to Auschwitz, where she died of typhus a month after her arrival. Her last work was Suite Francaise, written during the German occupation of Paris. It remained unpublished until 2004, when Némirovsky's daughter Denise had it published in France. It was an instant bestseller, was translated to many languages and sparked a rediscovery of Nemirovsky's work. Suite Francaise was made into a film in 2014 with the same title.
This movie is based on Nemirovsky's novel Deux (Two) first published in Paris in 1939 and reissued in 2010. The story is about people in their twenties and thirties engaged in the pursuit of happiness with attendant couplings and uncouplings, betrayals large and small, hard falls, disenchantments and painful accommodations with reality. The time is between WWI and WWII, the shadow of the first war still present, the second looming in the horizon. The tone is low key and compassionate, reminding one at times of Truffaut's work but without intellectual posturing.
Acting is excellent all around as are production values (cinematography, sets, etc.) Although there is little action, director Anne Villacèque tells the tale with unflagging pace. A superior movie.