TWO OF US – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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As first-time directors go, Filippo Meneghetti rarely takes a wrong emotional turn with Two of Us, a story of long-time female lovers living in a French town who are able to keep their relationship on the down-low given their living circumstances. The sweet-natured widow Madeline (Martine Chevallier), whose nickname is Mado, is able to hide the fact that she and the much more brazen and younger Nina (Barbara Sukowa) are a couple since they dwell in adjacent domiciles on the top floor of an apartment building.

Nina is determined to share what years they have left in Rome, with the hopes that Mado will sell her place so they can live in candid bliss. Unfortunately, Mado has a grown daughter and son who greatly care about her along with her much-adored young grandson.

Matters grow more complicated when Mado suffers a stroke. A creepy bug-eyed caregiver Muriel (Lea Drucker) is hired to tend to her needs around-the-clock but she is also suspicious of the Nina’s easy access to the apartment. Nina, much like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, is frantic about not being ignored as she bribes the caretaker to allow her to look after Mado, constantly peeps through the spy holes in her door and takes to using the key to Mado’s place at all hours. She even stoops to smashing a window and damaging a car in order to be with the love of her life.

While Sukowa’s Nina puts on an aggressive side show and rightfully knows that Mado needs her more than ever in the state she is in, Chevallier – who can’t speak — also makes an indelible impression. The partial invalid’s large blue eyes makes it clear she knows what is up and, more importantly what she needs. At first her family members are shocked by the revelation that Mado has been in a long-term lesbian relationship but eventually they put her wishes first.

We have seen more films over the years featuring older male lovers, including The Birdcage, Beginners, Love is Strange and the just-released Supernova. But Two of Us provides a strong counter-balance to those stories. If you aren’t moved by the final scene, you need to check your pulse.

EDITOR’S NOTE:Two of Us is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for February 5, 2021

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Susan Wloszczyna

Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a contributor for the online awards site Gold Derby and is an Oscar expert for RogerEbert.com. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.