13 Apr 23
One Fine Morning, the eighth film by french filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve, is an intimate, perfectly formed peach of a picture. Returning to the relatable concerns and sensibilities explored in her critically acclaimed earlier works such as Goodbye First Love, Father Of My Children and Things To Come, it is a deeply moving portrait of a woman – played by the ever excellent Léa Seydoux – trying to find a way back to herself after years of being a backbone for others.
The film deservedly won the Europa Cinemas Label for Best European film in the Directors' Fortnight section at last year's Cannes Film Festival, a testament to the sense of piercing intelligence, winning charm and ability to go directly to the heart that makes Hansen-Løve one of the most unusual voices in modern cinema.
Seydoux is Sandra, a Parisian single mother taking care of her daughter (a vibrant Camille Leban Martins) and her father, Georg (Pascal Greggory, Frankie, TV's Irma Vep), whose degenerative illness is forcing Sandra to find a care home for him which she can't afford (on one level, One Fine Morning is a topical film about the challenges of negotiating an intransigent health care system).
Sandra works as a translator and, with typical Hansen-Løve economy, it is the perfect profession: Sandra spends her life mediating between the lives of others, doing very little for herself. That is until she bumps into old acquaintance Clément – played by a dashing Melvil Poupaud (By The Grace Of God, Summer of '85) – a married-with-a-kid cosmos chemist-physicist who awakens desires Sandra believed were long gone.
As the two start a hot, adulterous affair that is impossibly cool in that French movie way – they slide between big conversations about the universe and playful games of tag in the park – Hansen- Løve keeps it sensual, grounded and unpredictable, built on a natural, palpable chemistry between the two actors.
There is a neat symmetry at play within Sandra's life – a daughter growing up too fast, a father regressing equally quickly – but, as ever, Hansen-Love is alive to life's messy realities. It proffers a world where love and loss co-mingle, creating a poignant, bittersweet vibe that is all its own.
Like Hansen-Løve's best work, One Fine Morning has the qualities of a song: it is serious and light all at once. It's a film chock-full of privileged moments – be it Sandra and Clément wandering around Montmartre or a delightful Christmas Eve set piece – beautifully woven together by relaxed, unforced storytelling.
The wistful mood is enhanced by Denis Lenoir's luminous cinematography that evokes Paris in the summer so perfectly you'll be leaving Picturehouse and instantly booking tickets on Eurostar.
In Seydoux, Hansen-Løve has found the perfect collaborator. Much of the actor's previous work, whether in the indie spaces of Blue Is The Warmest Colour and The French Dispatch or in the big-budget realm of Spectre and No Time To Die, has played on her feel for glamour and high drama.
Here, she is magnetic doing close, nuanced, finely attuned work as a woman living with sadness who believably leans into a complicated love. It's a critically acclaimed turn – "Quiveringly emotional, radiant and smart, Seydoux's performance... [is] sensational" raved The Telegraph – that is hopefully the start of a new long-lasting actor-director relationship.
Get in on the ground floor and see One Fine Morning, delivering all the feels with a gossamer-light touch. Ian Freer
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