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In "One Fine Morning," Mia Hansen-Love brings life’s daily struggles to the screen.

 Audrey Kupferberg examines a film roll in her office
Audrey Kupferberg
Audrey Kupferberg examines a film roll in her office

French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Love continues to win nominations and awards for her movies. All Is Forgiven, Father of My Children, Things to Come, and her most acclaimed work, Bergman’s Island are films that bring together cinematic style with relatable subjects.

In her recent film, One Fine Morning, she starts out filming in a room that is rather closed-in. Heading from a situation of complications to a world of some hope, she ends the film with a panoramic shot of Montmartre, a shot filled with sunshine and unending space.

In between, viewers are privy to the details of the life of a thirty-something widow, Sandra, a translator with a young daughter. For five years, she hasn’t been involved in dating. Then she and her good friend Clement become involved in a spikey relationship. It’s the kind of relationship viewers want to succeed. She is kind and loving, educated and attractive. He, too, is kind and loving, educated and attractive! But he is married with a young son. Will he break away from a tepid marriage to start a more fulfilling life with Sandra? How patient will Sandra be as Clement makes decisions?

Sandra’s aging father, a retired professor of philosophy, has a neuro-degenerative disease which has taken away his ability to remember the people in his life. He doesn’t recognize the surroundings in which he spends his days. There is no cure. As a loving daughter, Sandra spends hours of each day with him. Sitting at his side. Making conversation that he can understand – or maybe not understand. Hansen-Love began writing the screenplay for One Fine Morning when her own father was suffering from this kind of disease. He was still alive but fading away.

Those of us who have cared for parents over a period of years, frail folks who are no longer able to live on their own, sadly giving up their belongings to move to nursing homes, can relate to this storyline. The point is made that the books in the personal library of her father are reflections of his soul. Where will they end up when he is confined to a nursing home? Where will her father end up? It seems one institutionalized situation is worse than the next! There is a repeated motif, one might say a running gag, of helpless elderly women walking into her father’s room by mistake and having to be guided to their own room.

Sandra tells her father, “I am going away for two weeks.” She asks, “Is that okay?” His silent pause and expression before the scene blacks out are all the answer we need. Years ago I had the very same conversation with my aged mother as she sat in a nursing home. So many of us have dealt with this very sad situation. Hours of every day spent with a loved one who may not even recognize them…

Sandra’s relationship with Clement has more upbeat moments. They begin as friends. Then they are lovers. Then they are in love. It’s a highly sexed partnership, and there is some nudity and tasteful lovemaking.

One Fine Morning is filled with details. It’s easy to believe that some of those details come from Hansen-Love’s life. They are so plausible. So convincing. When it’s not a snag in her father’s situation, it’s a problem with her boyfriend. There even is a complication with her young daughter, a playful and loving child whose life is affected by her mother’s predicaments.

Lea Seydoux and Melvil Poupaud play their parts well. Hansen-Love had Seydoux in mind as she wrote the screenplay. One Fine Morning is available for streaming and on disc. For so many of us, this movie mirrors a slice of our own lives.

Audrey Kupferberg is a film and video archivist and retired appraiser. She is lecturer emeritus and the former director of Film Studies at the University at Albany and co-authored several entertainment biographies with her late husband and creative partner, Rob Edelman.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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