Film Friday: Suite Française

Set in a small French town in 1940, this powerful story shows the complex and layered nature of life under oppression. Hypocrisy and compromise seep into the lives of the local citizens as first refugees, then the invading army arrive. Hearsay, rumours and lies abound. Motives are often mixed and many sell out other residents or capitalize on the situation for profit, spite or survival.

At one point Madeleine begs Lucille to hide her hunted husband in the large country house where Lucille lives with her mother-in-law. Lucille immediately says no. But not long after she changes her mind and unbeknown to Madeleine takes her husband into hiding and helps him escape. The other towns folk have no idea and think of Lucille as a collaborator. Yet in reality she is the opposite.

Jesus once told a story of two brothers. The first said all the right things but did nothing. The second said all the wrong things and refused to help his father. Then he changed his mind. Jesus seemed to be inferring that it’s what we do that counts. Even if we say the wrong things. I find this really challenging – it’s so much easier sometimes to say the right things than to do them. Especially when under great pressure, as the folks were in Suite Française. And as they were when Jesus lived in Israel. Jesus lived under oppression and understood the complexities of that. The pressure to survive against all odds. Jesus’s friends promised to stick by him through thick and thin. Thomas and Peter had both talked of dying alongside their rabbi, but when he was arrested, and the pressure was on, they fled. Judas, on the other hand sold Jesus out, was that just for the money? Or because he was frustrated about the lack of change Jesus had brought? Did he hope to force a climax that would bring the Romans down? All of these folks were under pressure, and Jesus took that pressure and the fallout from it, along with the rumours, lies and hearsay,and absorbed them on Good Friday.

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