Film Review: One Fine Morning
One Fine Morning
Director: Mia Hansen-Løve
Sony Picture Classics
In Theaters: 01.27 (03.03 at Broadway)
For director Mia Hansen-Løve, embracing reality through film provides catharsis. One Fine Morning, Hansen-Løve’s newest feature film, effortlessly blurs the lines between fiction and reality while focusing on the meaning we give our lives.
One Fine Morning follows Sandra Kienzler (Léa Seydoux), a widowed single mother, as she navigates the complexities of several life-changing events, namely caring for father, Georg (Pascal Greggory), who is slowly succumbing to the neurodegenerative disease Benson’s syndrome. For Hansen-Løve, these stories are personal, having penned the script while she was caring for her own father who was suffering from a similar neurodegenerative malady. Extracting the most intimate moments of her own life, she offers us a personal and sophisticated existential drama on aging, relationships and love.
Sandra has mostly existed to take care of the ones she loves: her daughter, Linn (Camille Leban Martins), her free-spirited mother (Nicole Garcia) and her elderly grandmother. Just when Sandra begins to balance the chaos in her life, she serendipitously runs into old flame Clément (Melvil Poupaud), reigniting a passion that was presumed buried years before. Clément is married, making for an affair in true French cinema fashion.
For the first time, Sandra is the center of attention. Hansen-Løve’s down-to-earth approach to writing a character like Sandra is what sets One Fine Morning apart from similar films that confront the subject of infidelity and the existential dread we feel about death. Hansen-Løve, writes Sandra as a sensible person who maneuvers her emotions pragmatically.
Sandra still manages to balance the affair with her day to day routines. She is always on the go but rarely frenzied. She moves from her job as a translator to looking for the right nursing home for her father while still managing to care for Linn, dropping her off at school, picking her up and more. Most importantly, Sandra is having real conversations with Linn about the complicated relationship between her and Clément. Each moment we spend with Sandra brings us closer to her and makes each interval of her life feel that much more real. Life only slows down when she’s with Clément, and this is where we see how a woman who has put her own passions aside for so long is finally able to free her emotions.
In a film that focuses on the gentle nuances of a naturally shifting life, Léa Seydoux’s fine-tuned performance emanates from her subtle gestures. She provides an equilibrium for the sadness and happiness and reaches a deep verisimilitude. In One Fine Morning, emotions never overflow and overpower the scene because you can easily feel when a character is angry through their refined expressions.
One Fine Morning never dawdles in pity, a piece of wisdom that’s imparted early on in the film during the visit to Sandra’s grandmother. Sandra and Clément simply exist, and Hansen-Løve allows them to be free-thinking adults, devoid from any judgment as a result of the affair. One Fine Morning never deteriorates into a warning about the pitfalls of infidelity or a guide on the way we should treat our aging family members. Instead, it is an insightful autofiction on the impact that human interactions have on us, giving profound meaning to our most simple, unadorned moments in life. –PJ
Read more reviews of films featuring Léa Seydoux:
Film Review: No Time To Die
Film Review: Crimes of the Future
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