One may think, given her lack of presence, that Michelle Williams is taking a minor break from acting, or at least laying low. The actress does have an upcoming supporting role in “Oz: The Great and Powerful” which arrives in March 2013, but that will mean it’s been over a year since we’ve seen her on screen (her last role was November 2011’s “My Week with Marilyn” — though technically, as a commenter points out, “Take This Waltz” debuted theatrically afterwards, but debuted a few months earlier at the Toronto International Film Festival).
That is, of course, about to change rapidly. Williams is now in talks to star in “Suite Francaise” for English director Saul Dibb, the filmmaker behind 2008’s “The Duchess.” Set in WWII, if Williams takes the role the three-time Oscar nominee will play, according to Variety, “a spirited young woman in occupied France who falls for a German officer and must choose between love and her country.” Dibb is both writing and directing, and Variety strangely makes no mention that the films are based on the novels by Irène Némirovsky.
Dibbs’ screenplay was featured in the Brit-List in 2010. Before she was taken to Auschwitz, French writer Irène Némirovsky managed to complete two novels of a planned five-part series telling the story of life in France as the Nazis invaded. They were rediscovered by her children a decade ago, and published to huge acclaim and success in 2004. Universal were developing a version, penned by “The Pianist” writer Ronald Harwood, but that one seems to have fallen by the wayside.
Here’s the Amazon synopsis:
Beginning in Paris on the eve of the Nazi occupation in 1940, Suite Française tells the remarkable story of men and women thrown together in circumstances beyond their control. As Parisians flee the city, human folly surfaces in every imaginable way: a wealthy mother searches for sweets in a town without food; a couple is terrified at the thought of losing their jobs, even as their world begins to fall apart. Moving on to a provincial village now occupied by German soldiers, the locals must learn to coexist with the enemy—in their town, their homes, even in their hearts.When Irène Némirovsky began working on Suite Française, she was already a highly successful writer living in Paris. But she was also a Jew, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz, where she died. For sixty-four years, this novel remained hidden and unknown.
Production on “Suite Francaise” is tentatively scheduled to start in London next spring. Let’s hope Williams doesn’t stray from the screen for too long after this.