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  • Colin Fraser


THREE AND A HALF STARS A single mother is raising her children, caring for her ailing father and having an affair.


Starring Léa Seydoux, Pascal Greggory

‘Slice of life’ dramas don’t come more neatly sliced than this domestic drama from French director Mia Hansen-Løve. She has a well earned reputation for finely nuanced explorations of the everyday - the kinds of stories that pierce you to the core, or leave you somewhat nonplussed, depending on your engagement with the material. Here she asks us to embrace the balancing act of a single mother, her young child, unwell father and family demands all amplified by an extra-marital affair.

Hansen-Løve distills the melodramatic sounding framework into something much more tangible. Which, of course, it is. Raising kids is complicated, putting parents into care is complicated, an affair with a married man is complicated, yet ONE FINE MORNING doesn’t overcook the ingredients, pointing out that this is the kind of thing that happens every day. Which, of course, it does. It’s not what we do but how we cope that defines the film. She pulls focus on the domestic.

Making the ordinary a lot more interesting is the winning performance by Léa Seydoux as Sandra. She has an eight year old daughter, a job as a translator and is navigating the neurodegenerative decline of her father (Pascal Greggory). Sparks reignite when an old friend (Melvin Poupard) reappears in her life, offering support during this family crisis. All of which is interesting enough but nothing terribly unusual for a significant number of people. This is Hansen-Løve’s starting point as she reflects how the relationships of her characters ebb and flow, and how they cope.

As mentioned, without the trappings of melodrama, this is the kind of story that will resonate deeply with her target audience; not so much the rest. That’s where Seydoux provides a bridge in through her terrifically nuanced performance. Always compelling, it’s her capacity to turn emotion inside out, to go from laughter to tears in seconds, that gives the film a profound authenticity. What ONE FINE MORNING lacks in narrative fireworks it more than delivers in giving truth to the everyday, to this slice of life.


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