One Fine Morning (2022) Un Beau Matin

April 7th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Mia Hansen-Love; Cast: Lea Seydoux, Melvil Poupaud, Pascal Greggory, Camille Leban Martins, Nicola Garcia, Fejria Deliba, Sarah Lepricard, Pierre Meunier, Sarah La Picard; France 2022, 112 min.

French writer/director Mia Hansen-Love always tries to show the extraordinary in simple terms: and One Fine Morning is another story about love and loss that unfolds without sentimentality. There is poetry, but always of the melancholy kind and small details turn out to be the harbinger of change. Nothing comes easily to her main characters who feel real and relatable, and full of human flaws. To put it all into context, Hanson Love interweaves pithy insights  into her narrative as the large picture gradually emerges in the final act in this uplifting, profound and deeply affecting story of love in all its forms.

Sandra Kingsler (Seydoux) is a widow living with her young daughter Linn (Martins) in Paris where she is coming to terms with the slow demise of her father Georg, a former professor, who is suffering from a neuro-degenerative disease. Life is literally slipping away from him: “I wait for the thing to come and it doesn’t”. A care home is the only option, and Sandra and her sister, mother of two Elodie (Picard), and their divorced mother Francoise (Garcia) are searching for a suitable place.

In the middle of this family crisis, Sandra falls for a friend of her ex-husband. Clement (Poupaud) is a cosmo-chemist caught up in his own marriage and father of one. Finally, Sandra has enough of “being his mistress” and leaves Clement to make a decision. And as other characters join the story it grows ever more complex like a richly woven tapestry, each thread dependent on the other.

Going through her father’s diaries Sandra finds out that he wanted to write his autobiography, giving the film its title. There are certainly autobiographical passages from the director’s life, but they are part of a storyline explored the ongoing collision between Sandra’s attempts for happiness, and the reality. Her father’s illness sends her also back into her ambivalent childhood: even though she now idolises her father. In some ways, One Fine Morning is the reverse telling of the Hansen-Love’s earlier feature Good-Bye First Love in which the female central figure says goodbye to her past, having stepped into an identity more suitable for the rest of her life.

Sandra reflects on her past, her husband and a father who will soon will be memories. After all these years of emotional turbulence and physical abstinence she wants a passionate relationship, and she collides with Clement who does not want to spend all day in bed making love. As a translator/interpreter, she is well aware of the importance of words, and she wants to live life to the full, not content to take a back seat like her sister or mother. But Sandra is also as dependent on Clement’s return as her father is of outside help. One Fine Morning is all about hope after all – a story about the moments that make up a life. AS


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