Lucie Aubrac

Lucie Aubrac (which was released in France in 1997) is based the book Outwitting the Gestapo (Ils partiront dans l'ivresse) by Aubrac, which details her experiences in World War II France as a French Resistance fighter against the Nazis. The film deals with Lucie's (Carole Bouquet, known to American audiences for her role in For Your Eyes Only) efforts to rescue her husband Raymond (Daniel Auteuil) from the Nazis. Raymond is pretty high up in the Resistance hierarchy. At one of the high level meetings, they are betrayed and captured. It is up to Lucie and her Resistance allies to try to rescue her husband. The movie showcases, above all, the deep bond between Lucie and Raymond. Lucie and Raymond love each other more than anything else in the world. Her love is the driving passion behind her efforts to free Raymond.

Bouquet gives a superb performance as Lucie. She radiates a beauty born out of normality. Bouquet plays Lucie as a strong and determined woman, not afraid to do what it takes to get her husband back. She will walk right up to a French police officer or Nazi official and lie to his face. In spite of all this, Lucie is still a loving mother and a history teacher. Auteuil is also very good as Raymond, though his screen time is limited as the film goes on. All of the actors display a sense of nobility in fighting for what they believe in. The are determined to do what they can to win. Director Claude Berri does what many directors and films fail to do. At the beginning, he gives a disclaimer, stating that the story is real, but some liberties were taken with the story when dramatized. Mongoose has not read the book, so no comparison can be made to how the movie relayed the book. But supposedly, the book focuses more on the Aubracs' experiences during World War II, not just the capture of Raymond. Berri is the acclaimed French director behind Academy Award winning Le Poulet, Germinal, Jean de Florette, and Manon de Souces.

The dialogue in Lucie Aubrac is sparse, but the scenery is lush. Instead of focusing on words, Berri instead concentrates on actions. The Resistance fighters work silently as they plant explosives on a rail at the beginning of the film, and later as they converge upon their ill-fated meeting. And words are not necessary when actors are talented enough to convey emotions with their faces, as they do here. When Raymond and Lucie look into each other's eyes and proclaim their love for each other, you believe them. Lucie and Raymond are first in Lyons, then move to Caluire in their attempts to evade the Germans. The only drawback to this film is its length. Almost pushing two hours causes the story to drag at some points in time. Not much happens in the first half-hour, except for the establishment of the relationship between Lucie and Raymond. Cutting a chunk off the film could have moved the story along faster and added more drama, but this shouldn't detract from the good job that Berri has (once again) done.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 55 minutes, French with English Subtitles, Rated R for violence.

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