Historical dramas about heroism in the face of wartime danger never go out of fashion, but a certain kind of dully reverent storytelling ought to. Lucie Aubrac, Claude Berri’s homage to the real Aubrac (now in her 80s), a French Resistance fighter who organized the daring 1943 rescue of her comrade/husband, Raymond, from prison, where he was awaiting execution, manages to take great characters and a great plot and leach them of all blood, terror, and excitement. The film is not helped, either, by the blank mannequin composure of Chanel model-turned-Bond girl Carole Bouquet (For Your Eyes Only) as Lucie, or the hollow stares of the usually subtler Daniel Auteuil (Queen Margot) as Raymond, neither of whom manages to bring the Aubracs to life as humans rather than symbols of past bravery.
I can’t tell if Berri (Jean de Florette) made Lucie Aubrac to do penance for France’s complicated wartime record or to lecture his countrymen on the Gallic equivalent of The Greatest Generation. But he goes about his task rigidly reliant on the obvious and devoted to the expected. It’s a bad day for the Resistance when moviegoer interest in modern French history is outdone by interest in predicting the next camera angle.