Lucie Aubrac

on September 17, 1999 by Melissa Morrison
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   This taut, finely hued story is about the Aubracs, husband-and-wife members of the French Resistance--and that's about all it is. Writer/director Claude Berri ("Germinal") doesn't have much to add to the already full-to-bursting oeuvre of WWII Resistance films. The Aubracs were brave, the Nazis were cruel; that about sums it up. As a love story, the film has more heft.
   While Raymond Aubrac ("The Eighth Day's" Daniel Auteuil) works to undermine the German occupation of France in the traditional ways, such as blowing up trains (a spectacular opening sequence) and attending secret meetings, his wife Lucie ("Grosse Fatigue's" Carole Bouquet) isn't content to just tend the hearth. She's up for spiking a traitor's jam with cyanide, if necessary. But what really rousts her formidable will is not love for France but love for Raymond. When his arrest by Vichy police threatens to conflict with the anniversary of their first lovemaking, Lucie storms into the state prosecutor's house and threatens him. The sheer intensity of her glare does the trick. The latter half of the film concerns a pregnant Lucie's machinations to rescue Raymond from a Nazi death sentence.
   Auteuil, of the squashed nose and searching eyes, is the more emotionally grabbing of the pair. Bouquet's stern beauty makes her determination convincing, less so her passion. Her expressionless face saps several scenes of their power. Plotwise, a hint at what "Lucie Aubrac" could have been comes when Raymond comments on his life with Lucie amid the Nazi terror: "It's a terrible thing to say, but I can't help being happy." A film that explores the ambivalence of living in heaven at home and hell beyond the front door--now that would have been truly interesting.    Starring Carole Bouquet and Daniel Auteuil. Directed and written by Claude Berri. Produced by Pierre Grunstein. An October release. Drama/romance. French-language; subtitled. Rated R for violence. Running time: 106 min.
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