MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 27, 2023: ONE FINE MORNING
A Parisian woman juggles the demands of motherhood and daughterhood while trying to claim a chance at love in writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve’s intimate drama One Fine Morning. Anchored by star Léa Seydoux’s authentic, naturalistic performance as single mom Sandra, the film is a quietly moving meditation on what it means to be a caregiver to others when what you may need more than anything is to be cared for yourself.
Sandra and her school-age daughter, Linn (Camille Leban Martins), have a close, loving relationship and what seems like a happy life together, despite the fact that Linn’s father/Sandra’s husband passed away a few years earlier. Sandra balances her parental duties with her work as a translator and the increasing demands of caring for her aging father, Georg (Pascal Greggory), a former philosophy professor who’s suffering from a neurodegenerative disease. A chance encounter with an old friend, Clément (Melvil Poupaud) — now married and a father himself — awakens feelings Sandra thought might have been buried with her husband.
One Fine Morning follows Sandra over the course of about a year as she embarks on a passionate affair with Clément, works with her sister and her mother (long ago divorced from her father) to find a suitable situation for Georg, and spends time with Linn. Hansen-Løve’s unhurried direction gives her characters ample time to react to their circumstances and each other, to fully live in the roles and surroundings that she’s created for them. Seydoux is particularly good as Sandra, expertly conveying the complex mix of emotions she experiences in her daily life, from guilt and anger to joy and desire.
Sandra’s life isn’t an extraordinary one — plenty of women deal everyday with the same stressors and complications she’s facing in One Fine Morning — but her very ordinariness helps make her story relatable and touching. And the fact that it all plays out in Paris? That’s chic icing on an already flavorful cake. — Betsy Bozdech
Team #MOTW’s comments:
Pam Grady: Widowed mom Sandra (Léa Seydoux) can only watch helplessly as a neurological condition robs her father Georg (Pascal Greggory) of the man he once was, extinguishing his towering intellect and slowly killing him. When an amiable meeting with cosmo-chemist Clement (Melvil Poupaud), an old friend of her late husband, takes an erotic turn, Sandra throws herself into an affair with the married scientist, a welcome distraction from the woes of daily life until feelings start to intrude. Seydoux delivers a riveting performance as a woman grabbing passionately at life while both mourning her father’s illness and providing him a ballast as he struggles with his diminishing mind and creeping mortality. Writer/director Mia Hansen-Løve latest film is perhaps her best as she builds a multilayered story that is at once a sexy romantic drama as Seydoux and Poupaud create formidable sparks, a poignant portrait of tight familial bonds and imminent loss, and an indictment of a broken French elder care system.
Nell Minow: Lea Seydoux gives a performance of great sweetness and empathy as a single mother navigating the joys, fears, and sorrows of life all at once. On the job, she is a translator, bringing people together by decoding their different languages. As she interacts with the failing father and his ex-wife, her mother, his current companion, her bright young daughter, her frail grandmother, and a romantic interest who can give her only limited attention, she is also trying to find ways to connect people who do not fit together as perfectly as jigsaw puzzle pieces. Mia Hansen-Love finds meaning in small quotidian details, and Seydoux is a rare performer who is as good at listening as at speaking.
Jamie Broadnax Mia Hansen-Love’s dramatic storytelling about a single mother navigating her way through love and impending loss is expressed with care and grace in her latest film One Fine Morning. This French drama stars Lea Seadoux (Sandra) as its lead protagonist — a woman who gets entangled in an affair with a married man. As she’s further complicating her love life, she’s suffering from the mental and physical fatigue of taking care of her dying father. The film allows the viewer to explore the point of view of Sandra as well as carefully dissect her motives and ethically-challenging decisions. As delicate and controversial as Sandra’s choices are in this narrative, Hansen-Love’s film manages to garner sympathy and empathy towards a woman just trying to maintain some sense of normalcy and balance with the cards that have been dealt to her.
Marilyn Ferdinand A lonely, young widow with a 9-year-old daughter starts a romance with a married friend while trying to find a nursing home placement for her dying father. This scenario could be played many ways, but director Mia Hansen-Løve avoids its melodramatic aspects to focus on the emotional truth of ordinary people faced with life-altering circumstances. Léa Seydoux turns in a strong performance as Sandra, who feels pained abandonment by her mentally degenerating father, brilliantly played by Pascal Greggory, at the same time her lover (Melvil Poupard) does the clichéd dance of a married man reluctant to leave his wife and son. Of course, clichés never feel as such by the people caught up in them, and it is with this knowledge that Hansen-Løve brings intelligence and sympathy to this—and all—her character-driven films.
Leslie Combemale Lea Seydoux is once again in top form in Mia Hansen-Love’s latest. Her character, Sandra, navigates some of the worst aspects of what it means to love. She is losing a parent before her eyes, and has committed herself and given her heart to someone already spoken for. Watching how it plays out is like witnessing a train wreck through a prettily filtered lens. Sandra’s interactions with her father, whose memory is erasing itself more each day, are soooo French; at once blunt and very philosophical. The happier familial moments are beautifully rendered, like the scene where Sandra’s clan conspires together to imitate Santa, as he blunders into the apartment to leave their kids’ presents. Hansen-Love does a great job balancing the joy against the sadness, with examples which can be universally understood. Kids at Christmas are always a wonder, and dealing with a parent’s downward spiral sucks in every language.
Jennifer Merin One Fine Morning is one fine domestic romdram from Mia Hansen-Love. Lea Seydoux stars as Sandra, the single mother of a tween daughter and the daughter of an aging father who needs constant care. Her stress from balancing her responsibilities is both relieved and further complicated when she reconnects with an old boyfriend — now married with kids — and their flame rekindles. The story is engaging, the characters are compelling, the performances are convincing. It all adds up to an appealingly entertaining, remarkably relatable and emotionally rewarding distraction from real life’s current woes.
Sandie Angulo Chen: In One Fine Morning, Léa Seydoux gives a marvelously layered performance as Sandra, a Parisian single mother suffering the tragedies of the sandwich generation a bit early in life when her father (Pascal Greggory) suffers from a degenerative dementia-causing disease. As Sandra deals with the fact that her professorial father is losing seemingly everything recognizable about his personality (there’s a devastating line when she comments that she’d rather be around his books than him), the universe offers a bittersweet chance at happiness — a love affair with an old (but married) friend, Clément (Melvil Poupaud). Writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve knows how to make nuanced, evocative character studies, and this one is propelled by Seydoux’s talent.
Loren King Mia Hansen-Løve is one of the best directors working today for a body of films that reveal the small truths of ordinary lives. She’s not afraid to trust her story or allow her actors to be understated in exploring what it means to be a mother, a daughter, or lover. Like her recent, extraordinary films Things to Come and Bergman Island,”her latest One Fine Day is another semi-autobiographical journey that unfolds in a natural, deceptively simple way as Hansen-Løve tackles themes of loss and rebirth. Read full reviewhttps://awfj.org/blog/2023/01/18/one-fine-morning-review-by-loren-king/.
Liz Whittemore One Fine Morning shines brightest in Sandra’s evolving relationship with her ailing father. The emotional juxtaposition of filling that void with her affair with Clément is unmissable and skillfully crafted by director Mia Hansen-Løve. Léa Seydoux’s unfiltered vulnerability keeps you engrossed in a story that might otherwise have you turn on Sandra. One Fine Morning grabs you with its authenticity whether you like it or not.
Title: One Fine Morning
Director: Mia Hansen-Love
Release Date: January 27, 2023
Running Time: 112 minutes
Language: English, French and German with English subtitles
Screenwriter: Mia Hansen-Love
Distribution Company: Sony Pictures Classics
AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Sandie Angulo Chen, Betsy Bozdech, Jamie Broadnax, Leslie Combemale, Marilyn Ferdinand, Pam Grady, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Sherin Nicole, Liz Whittemore
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Edited by Jennifer Merin