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‘Suite Française’: The Real Reason Why the Weinstein Company’s WWII Drama Ended Up at Lifetime

Four years after being made, the drama starring Michelle Williams and Matthias Schoenaerts will get a small screen debut. Here's why.

Michelle Williams Suite Franciase

Michelle Williams in “Suite Franciase”


Remember that wartime romance from The Weinstein Company, starring Michelle Williams and Matthias Schoenaerts? Probably not; TWC took U.S. and other rights to Saul Dibb’s World War II drama, “Suite Française,” four years ago at the Cannes Film Festival.

And now, two years after its release in the U.K., it will premiere stateside on Lifetime May 22 — much as another TWC busted theatrical, “Grace of Monaco,” which opened the Cannes Film Festival out of competition in 2014.

READ MORE: Harvey Weinstein Isn’t Alone: Why Independent Film Distributors Are Taking a Beating

Set in Nazi-occupied France, “Suite Française” follows a French villager (Williams) who strikes up a romance with a German soldier (Matthias Schoenaerts) while waiting for news of her husband with her domineering mother-in-law (Kristen Scott Thomas). Dibb co-wrote and directed the film, which is based on the best-selling book by Irene Nemirovsky. Bob and Harvey Weinstein both served as executive producers.

Suite Franciase

“Suite Franciase”


“Suite Française” opened theatrically in the U.K. and France in 2015, but a TWC spokesman said the movie didn’t perform well enough to mount a theatrical release in the U.S., so the company sold the rights to Lifetime that year. The network has held onto the film since then, and is finally debuting it this month. A Lifetime spokesperson said the company felt airing the film this year situated it best for Award consideration. “Suite Française” was also released theatrically in multiple territories where TWC did not hold rights.

READ MORE: The Weinstein Company’s ‘Tulip Fever’ Release Date Pushed Back to Later in 2017

One important difference between the two Lifetime/TWC films is “Suite Française” attracted far better reviews than “Grace of Monaco,” earning a 75 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite being nominated for the Outstanding Television Movie award at the 2015 Primetime Emmys, “Grace of Monaco” attracted an 11 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.

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