It's six years since Universal picked up Irene Nemirovsky's posthumous bestseller for a film adaptation, but Suite Francaise now finally seems to be coming together. Saul Dibb (The Duchess) has landed the directing and screenwriting gig, while Michelle Williams is in talks to star.
Williams' role would be Lucille Angellier, a feisty French girl living under the German occupation, who faces a dilemma when she falls in love with a German officer through a shared love of music (she's a pianist and he's a composer). The script, back when the film was first mooted, was being hammered out by Ronald Harwood, who also wrote Roman Polanski's The Pianist. Whether Dibb is now working with that or starting from scratch on his own is currently unclear.
Nemirovsky wrote the novel in 1941: it's actually the first two sections of a planned five-part sequence, tragically never completed due to the author's death in Auschwitz the following year. The romantic thread takes place in the second section, with the first depicting Parisian Jews evacuating the city for the French countryside. Nemirovsky's daughters discovered the manuscript - previously thought to be a diary - in 1998, and it was finally published in 2004. The English translation became a juggernaut success in the UK in 2006.
David Parfitt and Mark Cooper are producing, which, if Williams does sign on, will make for something of a My Week With Marilyn reunion. The production will shoot in London, and a start date is currently pencilled in for next spring.
The novel is published in the UK by Vintage.