Andrea’s Angle | “One Fine Morning” – Fine But Slow
I’ve always had a soft spot for independent foreign films. So when I hear about one, like One Fine Morning, I want to see it. One Fine Morning deals with some difficult topics, including an ailing father and a difficult relationship, so it has potential. The acting is beautiful, and the relationships are explored well, so the film is fine but slow, with the powerful themes watered down by long, unnecessary scenes and a failure to focus.
One Fine Morning is a French romantic drama written and directed by Mia Hansen-Løve. The film focuses on a young single mother, Sandra Kienzler (Léa Seydoux), who works as a translator, struggling to care for her eight-year-old daughter Linn (Camille Leban Martins). She is also helping her ailing father, Georg (Pascal Greggory), who has a degenerative disease that causes blindness and confusion. While she is struggling to oversee her father (a former philosophy professor) as he declines, Sandra runs into an old friend named Clement (Melvil Poupaud). She and Clement begin a relationship, despite the fact that he is married with a child of his own. Between the affair and her complex emotions over her father’s decline, Sandra must make difficult decisions on what is best for her and her family.
One of the aspects I enjoyed the most about the film was the powerful emotions and ideas that the filmmakers explore. Not only is Sandra struggling with her father’s decline, but she’s also dealt with the loss of her first husband. She has known loss, and with her father, she is dealing with his loss while his body remains physically there. Each day he moves further away and, at times, barely remembers her or who he used to be. The only way she can still connect with him is through the books and music that he loved; those items bring the memory of who he was close to her, even when her mother, Georg’s ex-wife, fails to understand. Sandra also struggles with the affair and feels like she doesn’t have the whole attention of Clement. Even as he says he loves her, he still remains with his wife for the sake of his son. Ultimately, the film resonates with the power of love, how it remains when all else is lost, and how we will always have our memories. The writing does a commendable job of sharing that concept.
The filmography itself is riveting. The scenes of the city, whenever Sandra is outside with her daughter, are beautiful. The filming also shows how difficult finding a care facility for Georg is; each facility is terrible and coldly impersonal. In addition, since they are public, none of them will allow him to stay long-term. What is fascinating is how well the filming illustrates the difference between a public home and a private one the family is finally able to move George into. The contrasts between the different facilities are stark and demonstrate how hard it is to find care for an ailing parent.
As the focus of the film, Léa Seydoux gives the audience an incredible performance. Her pain and suffering are believable as she faces the degeneration of her father and a troubled relationship. The chemistry between her and Melvil Poupaud, who plays Clement, is palpable. She is warm and loving with the young actress playing Linn, Camille Leban Martins, and the dynamic between her and Pascal Greggory is rich with layers of emotion and pain. Melvil Poupaud is a wonderful contrast to her character, and his performance is skilled at illustrating how torn he is between his relationships. Camille Leban Martins is sweet and does a beautiful job with her performances as Linn. Pascal Greggory’s performance is powerful and emotional. The acting of those playing the secondary characters is also rich and beautiful.
What causes issues for me with the film is that it is slow and also repetitive. We see Sandra with her father many times, and we also see the back-and-forth affair between her and Clement. If the film had focused on one or the other, the story might have been more profound for it. While I can see the writers are attempting to bring out a correlation between Sandra and her relationship with her father’s partners, it is not always clear, and the repetition makes for a much slower film. And while some of the sex scenes help sell the relationship, a great deal could have been cut and still allowed the story to shine. The ideas are powerful, and you do get the emotional payout at the end of the film, but it is difficult to sit through for that long a period of time.
If you do like foreign films that deal with relationships and the loss of family, especially dealing with an ailing parent, you might enjoy this movie. I loved the performances of the cast, especially Pascal Greggory and Léa Seydoux. They both were genuine, and their performances were rich and nuanced. I found the ideas powerful despite the repetition, and the acting was some of the finest I’ve seen. I just would have preferred a more focused and honed story that would have allowed the emotions and ideas to shine brighter.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 books
Official Website: One Fine Morning | Sony Pictures Classics
One Fine Morning
Sandra (Lea Seydoux) is a widowed young mother raising her daughter on her own, while also caring for her sick father (Pascal Greggory). She’s dealing with the loss of the relationship she once had with her father, while she and her mother and sister fight to get him the care he requires. At the same time, Sandra reconnects with Clément (Melvil Poupaud), a friend she hasn’t seen in a while and, although he’s married, their friendship soon blossoms into a passionate affair.
ONE FINE MORNING is currently playing in select cities and opens in select Phoenix theaters on February 3, 2023.