‘One Fine Morning’ – Review

Visual virtuoso Mia Hansen-Løve composes a light, honest story that strikes an emotional chord as it looks at the impact of love on Lea Seydoux’s graceful Sandra.

Sandra lives in France as an interpreter with her daughter Linn. Outside of work and her daughter, she splits time between two emotionally unavailable men. Her father, Georg, is a philosophy professor suffering from a neurodegenerative disease. Sandra and her sister and mother are dealing with his declining health very casually, but with moments of sadness. One thing they must do is remove him from his home and find a decent nursing home for him.

While taking care of her ailing father one morning, she runs into an old friend of her deceased husband, Clément. They immediately spark up a relationship leading to her splitting time between the two men, her job, and her daughter. He offers her an escape from the reality of her father. Already feeling the pain of her father’s condition, leaping into a relationship with a married man is risky. He will also be an absent man in her life due to having his own family and deciding whether to leave them for Sandra and Linn.

Mirroring her job as a translator, Sandra is often a middleman in these relationships. There is a power imbalance between her and the men in her life, with Clement’s marriage dictating their relationship, and with her father, she is in a situation out of her hands, so she tries to help where she can. While each relationship is painful, she still loves both these men, and each brings her something different. Clément is a source of happiness, and her father is someone she loves. 

At one point in the film, Sandra finds her father’s manuscript where he claims how he wants to write about what will hurt him. Director-writer Mia Hansen-Løve uses this ideology to explore the difficulties of love in all its form. At its heart, One Fine Morning is about how we give ourselves over to love, no matter how it might hurt us. She beautifully goes through all of love’s forms of self-destruction, intoxication, and beauty in the story of Sandra.

It sounds overwhelming to include this all in one film, but Hansen-Løve maintains a steadiness and breeze throughout the film. The relationship between Sandra and her lover provides relief from the heartbreak of Georg’s decline. There is sadness in watching Sandra do so much for her father who doesn’t remember her. She learns that she needs to set boundaries as a form of self-preservation. Hansen-Løve captures the challenges of loving someone on the decline.

Léa Seydoux gives a career-best performance by making the role of Sandra feel lived-in. She goes through the routines of her heartbreak and bemusement with everyone in her life so naturally. Sandra has been through pain, and because of that she has closed herself off emotionally. Seydoux uses her face to convey Sandra’s flux of emotions as she constantly manages how she feels for others. In her other films, she is typecast an aloof woman, but Hansen-Løve gives her material to craft a fully developed character. There is nuance in her performance that is missing from many of her roles in male-directed films.

Hansen-Løve curates small moments of Sandra’s life to create a portrait of love in all its forms.

Grade: B+

Oscar Prospects:
Likely: None
Should be Considered: None

Where to Watch: In Select Theaters

Jillian Chilingerian
she/her @JillianChili
Lives in LA
Favorite Director: David Fincher
Sign: Leo

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