Writer/Director Mia Hansen-Løve is a visionary who seems to enjoy taking characters and breaking them in two. Adored by critics for the sophisticated way she expresses love, desire and loneliness, she once again throws her protagonist, Sandra, played by Léa Seydoux (No Time To Die, The Lobster), into an environment where she finds herself cheerless and somewhat segregated from the world. Hansen-Løve also wrote and directed 2021’s haunting “Bergman Island,” which starred Tim Roth and Mia Wasikowska. With “One Fine Morning,” she has another film that’s nice and Fresh on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer.
Sandra’s a young widow with a handful of a daughter named Linn (Camille Leban Martins). Though their relationship is excellent and robust, as Linn ages, she’s starting to see what she’s missing out on growing up without a father. When Linn really wants to put Sandra through the wringer and make mommy feel as though her misery is her mother’s fault. Ever the drama queen, she instantly “develops” a limp. This, too, is her mother’s doing… everything else is. Director Hansen-Løve has the girl limping through a long scene, even up and downstairs. That couldn’t have been easy, but it worked well for the child to prove her point. She needs help and her mother needs to get some, too.
Linn hasn’t a clue how difficult Sandra’s life is at the moment. She lost her mate and her father, Georg Kienzler (Pascal Greggory), for whom she has always been close, is ill with a neurodegenerative disease. She and her sister are having a difficult time managing his care. Their mother, who has been divorced from him for over twenty years, gives the girls the terrible news that their father is going to have to go into a nursing home. Finding a good one isn’t as easy as it would seem. Some homes are affordable but in horrible shape.
While on this quest, Sandra runs into Clément (Melvil Poupaud), a former flame. It seems he came around at the right time. Maybe her love life can manifest something euphoric when everything else is falling apart. However, it turns out that Clément is married. The intelligent woman that Sandra is, knows not to get involved but dives in anyway, choosing to believe him when he says he loves her and he’s leaving his wife for her.
Seydoux is charming and as lovely a woman as there is to play this struggling single mother. She’s dealing with a lot and never smiles, but the few times she does, she lights up the screen giving the audience the impression she’s in the driver’s seat once and for all.
Outside of Seydoux, what was genuinely alluring about this film is that Mia Hansen-Løve doesn’t hold back when it comes to the elderly, how they’re observed and how they know they’re regarded. She uses several people and situations to get that point across, one even telling us that they don’t want pity; they want to live and be seen as everyone else.
Point of note, the cinematography is gorgeous. I want to visit every place these characters meander or row a boat through. I wouldn’t want Sandra’s troubles, but surely she can take comfort that she’s young and beautiful in a city where she can find the same.
One Fine Morning
Original title: Un beau matin
Directed by: Mia Hansen-Løve
Written by: Mia Hansen-Løve
Starring: Léa Seydoux, Pascal Greggory, Melvil Poupaud, Nicole Garcoa, Camille Leban Martins
Run Time: 1h 52m
Genres: Drama, Romance, Sony Pictures Classics
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