In early May, American audiences (few, anyway) got a chance to see the heartbreaking split-screen drama. Vortex by Gaspar Noé, in which an elderly Parisian couple falls apart. Ten years ago, the film by Michael Haneke that told more or less the same story, Amour, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Another French drama about dementia premiered at Cannes just last year. It’s a brutal, if often rewarding, trend that of these films that tackle the scariest possibilities of the end of life with a no-nonsense look.
The masterful director Mia Hansen-Løve she returned to Cannes after the enchanting Bergman Island last year to offer his point of view on this French fade. His film, One Fine Morning, is typical of many of his earlier works, as he is sensitive and wise and seems to wander a bit aimlessly until suddenly a unitary meaning is revealed. It is a bitterly sad film, but also warm and delicate to the point that you do not come out with a sob but with a sigh.
Léa Seydoux plays Sandra, a translator and single mother who lives in Paris and whose father, Georg (Pascal Greggory), has gone blind due to a degenerative disease and needs more and more care. Sandra and her father have not yet accepted this reality, until Sandra’s mother (Nicole Garcia) does not convince her that, according to all medical advice, they will have to hospitalize Georg in a kind of nursing home.
The process, with all the load of personal pain and bureaucratic frustration, takes up about half the film. There is a parallel narrative track in which Sandra has an affair with Clément, (Melvil Poupaud), a married man who was friends with Sandra’s husband (I think Sandra must be assumed to be a widow). So here is the beginning of something risky and complicated but full of energy, just as, at another point in Sandra’s life, her passionate and intellectual father (he taught philosophy at the university) is losing the joy of living.
One Fine Morning follows these narrative threads as Sandra finds herself having to manage two broken hearts, one imminent and the other all too possible. However, Hansen-Løve did not make a psychological film. One Fine Morning it is filled with a captivating humor about French politics, about the strange idiosyncrasies of children, about the terrifying and sadly amusing chaos of aged care facilities. The film, and Sandra, need this occasional levity to move forward, just as Sandra needs something new – all the fiery, if unreliable, attention of Cléments – to get out of the fatalism of dealing with a slow death. parent. (And, actually, from the fatalism of considering your own).
This is a movie about care of people and of themselves, as a way not only to defend ourselves from mortality in the best possible way, but to feel crucially connected to the fullness of our present. We watch Sandra take care of her father and daughter, explaining the world to both of them, one at the beginning of her time, the other at the end. The fact that Sandra is a translator is certainly not a casual detail: her job is to clarify things for others, to guide people towards understanding by filtering everything through her own matrix of knowledge and experience.
When the final scene comes, sweetly deep, One Fine Morning he pauses to savor the sensorial and emotional richness of being alive, his sadness is perhaps a necessary counterweight to his pleasure. Seydoux you enjoy the opportunity to interpret such a nuanced and everyday feeling. Her interpretation is finely observed and careful, able to negotiate subtle changes in Sandra’s psychology. I imagine Séydoux would be in the running for the best actress award here in Cannes if her film was in the main competition and not in the side section of the Directors’ Fortnight.
The same goes for the work of Vicky Krieps in the Un Certain Regard debut, Corsagedirected by Marie Kreutzerwhose latest film, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, was a criminally underrated moody suspense study. In Corsage (referring to a corset, not the American prom accessory), Kreutzer returns to the reign of Empress Elizabeth of Austria, locked in an unhappy marriage to Franz Joseph I and mourning the loss of a son. She too is about to turn 40, a precarious moment for a woman of the time renowned for her youthful beauty.
In Elizabeth’s story, Kreutzer finds an opportunity to explore the rigid expectations placed on women, who must age gracefully or not age at all, and who must endure without complaining the restrictions of the male power structure. With its elegant effect and its bursts of anachronism – modern music above all – Corsage remember right away Marie Antoinette from Sofia Coppola, who examined the malaise of the court with a contemporary and ironic eye. But the Elizabeth of Corsage is a creature with more strength and fury than the young and dreamy flibbertigibet of Marie Antoinette. Kreutz’s film is darker and sharper, imbued with glamorous gloom.
Kreutzer’s ambition is well matched by Krieps, who plays Elizabeth as haughty and hurt at the same time, empathetic and cruel. She is a ‘fascinating and modulated interpretationwhich places Krieps on Reynolds Woodcock’s side in the equation of The hidden thread (If Kreutzer’s film feels heavy and overloaded with messages at times, Krieps is the force that keeps things moving and audiences engaged. It’s an exciting twist, which risks being an arch-diva camp but never ventures out. in the theatrical (albeit wonderful) manner of one Spencer or one Jackie.
In this intermediate phase of the festival, I’d put Krieps at the top of the list of best actresses, but, like Seydoux, she will not be a candidate. One wonders why neither One Fine Morning neither Corsage have managed to enter the main competition, especially considering the scarcity of female directors in that category. Maybe Hansen-Løve wanted a minor debut for her film, and maybe Kreutzer too. But both of them would have been worthy of being entered in the main competition, with two leading actresses at the helm. Ah, well. They are performances and films that can stand on their own without these potential accolades. Look for them both when one day they arrive at a cinema near you.
Source: Vanity Fair