One Fine Morning (2022)
Director: Mia Hansen-Løve
Screenwriter: Mia Hansen-Løve
Starring: Léa Seydoux, Melvil Poupaud, Pascal Greggory, Camille Leban Martins
When asked about her inspiration for 2022 Cannes International Film Festival entry One Fine Morning, writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve said: “it came from my own observation of sometimes opposite things happening at the same time in one’s own life. Like a strange morning and at the same time a rebirth.”
One Fine Morning presents a realistic depiction of life and relationships, without a rose-tinted Hollywood lens. When Parisian single mother Sandra (Léa Seydoux) bumps into Clément (Melvil Poupaud), she discovers a side to herself that had been closed off since the death of her husband, five years previously. Their passionate love affair sparks a sexual re-awakening in Sandra, offering an outlet of happiness in a time of grief. Clément is sweet with Sandra’s young daughter Linn (Camille Leban Martins) as he initially slots into Sandra’s world. Linn is funny and charming as a child who knows yet doesn’t fully understand her mother’s new relationship with her school friend’s dad.
As with all relationships, it is not always straightforward, and Clément’s marriage inevitably exposes cracks in the lovers’ private bubble. The elation in Sandra’s face at receiving a message from him, and the pain at their goodbyes, reflects the volatility of love and human emotion. Meanwhile, Sandra cares for her father (Pascal Greggory) who has Benson’s syndrome, a neurodegenerative disease affecting both his sight and mental capacity. No longer able to live by himself, Sandra painfully watches him being moved from one care facility to another.
In an interview for Sight & Sound magazine, Hansen-Løve said that “there are films I want to write and the films that I have to write – these films chose me more than I chose them”. The director’s experience of her own father’s illness clearly influenced the film and adds to its realistic portrayal. Greggory plays Sandra’s father with the subtle pain of a man who knows his mind is deteriorating. He told the audience: “it was the first time in my actor’s life that I really lost myself in the character”.
There is a very powerful line when Sandra is sorting through her father’s library, and she tells her daughter that she feels closer to him with his books than at the hospital. “There is his envelope body, here is his soul”. It is so poetically moving, and relatable to many people who have loved someone with a similar illness. The body is simply the outer shell, and when their mind is gone it is the things they once loved which truly reflect who they are, or who they were, and how they might want to be remembered. As a philosopher, language was his life and passion, and so it follows that books more accurately reflect Sandra’s father than his physical presence does. They are his interiority.
The tone of One Fine Morning mirrors Sandra’s fluctuating emotions, frequently interspersing tragedy with moments of humour. One such example is a very funny and charming moment when Sandra and her friends pretend to their children that Santa has arrived – the children giggle in delight in the next room as their parents go to great lengths to create the magic of Christmas.
This juxtaposition is also reflected in the film’s aesthetic, which contrasts sombre care homes and hospitals with the vibrant beauty of a sunny Parisian morning. Like the transience of the seasons, Hansen- Løve contrasts the unpredictable ups and downs of life, and how both can unexpectedly happen at the same time. Hansen-Løve has shot almost all of her films in 35mm, and when asked on her decision to do so with One Fine Morning, explained: “I knew that I was going to shoot in places that were not the prettiest, maybe I thought it would give them more soul”.
During the Cannes Q&A, Léa Seydoux said “it was the first time that [she] had the opportunity to play a normal woman, someone the audience would relate to immediately”. From glamorous Bond girl to the star of Cronenberg’s latest body horror, One Fine Morning certainly feels like a refreshing change and demonstrates her versatility as an actor. Viewers can empathise with Sandra’s character, feeling both her passion and her grief during the most tumultuous time in her life.
One Fine Morning depicts a bittersweet transitional period in a woman’s life, and finding love when you least expect it. While the film is undoubtedly sad, it has an air of life-affirming hopefulness, that with endings come new beginnings.
Written by Gala Woolley
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