Stepping back from Cannes’ main competition in favor of the somewhat cooler (in 2022, anyhow), awards-less Directors’ Fortnight lineup, Mia Hansen Løve is already back at the festival with a follow-up to her 2021 entry, Bergman Island. That film, while certainly her highest profile to date (her first in English, starring Hollywood actors), was also unfortunately her shallowest, a handsomely shot domestic/filmmaking drama hindered by tropey and meta plotting that proved a lacking switch-up from Løve’s usual, grander designs. Now back in France with a French cast (headed up by currently unstoppable Lea Seydoux and Rohmer regular Pascal Greggory), Løve’s latest production, One Fine Morning, has the director reestablishing the rhythms and pacing essential to her best work, without quite breaking from the more conventional scope and wisdoms embraced by Bergman Island.
Assembled in a fashion similar to her masterpiece Eden and the (also major) films she did on either side of that one, Goodbye First Love and Things to Come, One Fine Morning concerns itself with a significant swath of its protagonist’s life, but moves through it with a sort of deliberate casualness that condenses and approximates our real world relationship with memory and time’s passage. A remarkable effect that can be credited to the longstanding collaborative relationship between Løve and editor Marion Monnier, who have worked together on every one of the filmmaker’s features, honing a style and approach to narrativizing via the edit that manages to shrink time while still resonating as expansive — even epic. One Fine Morning doesn’t really reach that latter status, but it’s nevertheless an appealing continuation of these formal considerations, this time in the context of an affair, carried out in semi-secret between Seydoux’s Sandra and Melvil Poupad’s Clément. Introduced while picking up their respective kids from school, Sandra is a single mother working as a French/English translator while Paul is a cosmochemist frustrated by his wife but bound to her for the sake of his son’s wellbeing. Meanwhile, Sandra’s father (the aforementioned Greggory) is slipping into a state of neurological decline, slowly losing his memories and personality, and thus forcing her to make some challenging considerations about the future of his care and housing.
It’s well-covered territory for both Løve and the Cannes Film Festival undoubtedly, and One Fine Morning never entirely eludes the sense that we’ve been here before, but the movie still manages a couple moments of surprise with some mild reworking of this narrative’s expected beats. “Mild” is in in fact the most efficient way to characterize One Fine Morning, a film that doesn’t avoid tragedy, but mostly forgoes histrionics, placing us besides Seydoux in this moment of slight emotional precarity, the tension building from its anticipated collapse/transcendence. A tale of a mid-life crisis basically, competently managed, One Fine Morning doesn’t immediately stand out as a peak in Løve’s already tremendous filmography, but there’s enough here that it has the potential to resonate in the long term, as so much of her work has proven to do.
Published as part of Cannes Film Festival 2022 — Dispatch 7.