One Fine Morning is a delicate story of human relationships and their complexities, and of watching people disappear before your eyes. Director Mia Hansen-Løve is no stranger to Australian audiences and is known for her films Things to Come, AFFFF 2017, Eden, AFFFF 2015, Goodbye First Love, AFFFF 2012 (which she came to Australia to promote), and Bergman Island released in 2021.
The central character in the film is Sandra, portrayed authentically by Léa Seydoux (who is familiar to both French and English speaking audiences (Oh mercy!/Roubaix, une lumière from AFFFF 2020 and The French Dispatch released late last year)). Life isn’t easy. She’s a widowed single mother to daughter Linn, and performing mentally taxing work an interpreter. It’s refreshing (and rare) to see Léa Seydoux looking so naturalistic in a film wearing jeans and little make-up for much of One Fine Morning.
Sandra’s father, Georg is convincingly played by Pascal Greggory (La vie en rose/La môme, 2007 and The Page Turner/ La Tourneuse de pages, AFFFF 2007). He was until recently a philosophy professor and has a degenerative neurological condition affecting his eyesight, memory and understanding of his surroundings. Every time he appears on screen, we feel his anguish and confusion. He is disappearing before her eyes, she is having to mourn him before he has passed.
Sandra’s mother, Françoise, is played by Nicole Garcia (who you may recognise from the Netflix series Lupin, dans l’ombre de l’Arsène, and the film Who You Think I Am/Celle que vous croyez, AFFFF 2019). She’s long-divorced from Sandra’s father and is finding a new zest for life through non-violent protest. She pushes Sandra to accept that Georg needs to be moved into care.
For Sandra, a pleasant distraction comes with the reappearance of an old friend Clément, played by Melvil Poupaud (Brother and Sister/Frère et Sœur film this year’s AFFFF, The Young Lovers/Les Jeunes Amants from AFFFF 2022, and Summer 85/Été 85 from AFFFF 2021) and the two quickly start a passionate relationship. However, that isn’t easy either because he’s married with a child.
One Fine Morning drifts between distress and joy. Distress comes from the fallout of her father’s debilitating and progressive illness, whether it be visiting facility after facility in search of one fitting for her father, packing up his apartment and being overwhelmed at the idea of losing his library (in which she finds more of her father than in the man himself), and she finds joy in her moments with Clément.
Mia Hansen-Løve’s films often treat difficult, realistic subject matters and particularly loss. One Fine Morning is no different; it looks at the ways in which we deal with ageing and the deteriorating health of our parents. As always, Mia Hansen-Løve handles these sensitive matters with delicacy.
Her films are also often somewhat inspired by her own lived experience and this is also the case in One Fine Morning. She explained that the film was partly inspired “by my father’s illness while he was still alive. I was trying to make sense of what I was going through. And I wanted to explore how two opposing feelings, a sense of grief and rebirth, can dialogue, experiencing them simultaneously”.
Some scenes are shot in quite unique ways, which add something special to the film. In a scene in which Sandra is dreaming, rather than seeing just the image of her asleep or the imagery of the dream, the dream plays out over the shot of her sleeping. A scene in which Linn goes to visit her great-grandmother appears almost documentary-like when the great-grandmother is talking on screen about her ailments and her life.
One Fine Morning is a poignant, touching film of love and loss and of managing human relationships. It was the winner of the Cannes Film Festival 2022, Best European Film (Directors Fortnight). It was released in France in October 2022 and made its Australian debut at the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023. It will be released by Palace Films in Australia this week on 8 June 2023.
Matilda Marseillaise attended a media preview screening of One Fine Morning.
You may also like read our other reviews of AFFFF films:
Happy 50 – THIS FILM IS ALSO BEING RELEASED ON 8 JUNE 2023
Sugar and Stars: an inspiring tale about the road to sweet success THIS FILM IS BEING RELEASED IN LATE JULY 2023
The Origin of Evil is a must-see film this AFFFF – THIS FILM IS BEING RELEASED in MID 2023
For events with links to France, French language and culture and the francophonie happening in Australia this month, check out our What’s on in June.