Director Mia Hansen-Løve has a unique skill at chronicling the everyday conflicts we hold within us. In many of her films, the conflicts involve a couple. In her brilliant film Things To Come, the internal strife is more about identity and the chance for change. In all her work, there is a great deal of empathy and an understanding that all of us are imperfect.
Hansen-Løve's new film, One Fine Morning, continues her exploration into everyday life. Once again she has created a film that is profound, both on an emotional and mental level. Sandra (Léa Seydoux) is a widow with a young daughter, Linn (Camille Leban Martins). She is balancing way too much, especially with her ailing father Georg (Pascal Greggory) whose degenerative illness is quickly taking away his memories and abilities. In the midst of all of this chaos, she reconnects with Clément (Melvil Poupaud), an old friend. The two quickly begin an affair, Clément is married.
Sandra works as a translator, someone who guides language from one person to the next. This seems to mirror her personal life in which she focuses on everyone else's needs and demands and rarely focuses on herself. Like a translator, she is a vessel for the will of others. This thread keeps a sense of devastation running throughout the film. The people closest to her are all moving away. Sandra will have to say goodbye to her father, who will soon not recognize her. Her daughter is growing up, following the natural path of needing her mother less and less. Clément seems unwilling to leave his wife for her and thus even the thing bringing her joy in life is likely to expire soon. Sandra is in a constant state of heartbreak.
Seydoux gives a sincere and powerful performance here, one of her best. She creates Sandra to be someone who is constantly pushing past her sadness to go on because she has to because so many are counting on her. What she is going through is so relatable that it is hard not to see a part of yourself in Sandra. We all have quiet tragedies that play out in our lives as well. Seydoux finds ways to communicate so much pain and strength in just a few looks or gestures.
One Fine Morning is full of great moments. At times, the film can feel motionless, as if it isn't moving anywhere. At other times, it wrecks you with a profound observation of humanity. Such is the strength of Hansen-Løve's filmography. She often creates characters and movies that burrow their way into your heart in ways that are not obvious. There are no melodramatic scenes here, no dramatic fireworks. One Fine Morning doesn't need them when it so deftly examines the daily pain of living.