One Fine Morning Review: a gentle, moving character study

Melvil Poupaud, Camille Leban Martins and Léa Seydoux lean against a railing together in One Fine Morning.

“Set to a captivating performance by Léa Seydoux, One Fine Morning is another gentle, heartbreaking character study from writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve.”


  • The main role of Lea Seydoux

  • Mia Hansen-Løve’s complex, unsentimental screenplay

  • Denis Lenoir’s warm sunny cinematography


  • A repeating second act

  • An underdeveloped romance

  • Melvil Poupaud’s One Note Performance

There is a quiet magic in all of Mia Hansen-Løve’s films. Over the past 15 years, the French writer and director has slowly established herself as one of cinema’s most unique and assured contemporary voices. your movie of 2021, Bergman Island, not only felt like Hansen-Løve’s largest and most accessible film to date in many ways, but also as their most structurally effective and artistically secure. Now, two years later, Hansen-Løve has returned A nice morning.

The new film has more in common with some of Hansen-Løve’s previous French-language films – those from 2014 Things to come – as with Bergman Island. Many of the greatest hallmarks of the filmmaker’s work to date are contained in A nice morning, which follows a woman who, in typical Hansen Løve fashion, never slows down or pauses long enough to think as deeply as she deserves. Based on her recent collaborations with Isabelle Huppert and Vicky Krieps, A nice morning Hansen-Løve is also directing Léa Seydoux, another of the brightest faces in international cinema, for the first time.

While the film isn’t quite as impactful thematically or stylistically as Bergman IslandSeydoux’s fearless leading lady sets her in an emotional space that proves to be far more expansive than it first appears.

Léa Seydoux walks with Pascal Greggory in One Fine Morning.
Carole Bethuel / Les Films Pelleas. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Seydoux plays the leading role A nice morning as Sandra Kienzler, a professional translator and single mother who spends most of her day worrying about and caring for her elderly father Georg (Pascal Greggory), who has been crippled by a neurodegenerative disease that left him be Deprived of eyesight and his cognitive abilities. when it is introduced A nice morningSandra is already used to dividing all of her attention between Georg and her daughter Linn (Camille Leban Martins). Her ability to juggle so many responsibilities at once makes Sandra a natural subject for Hansen-Løve, a filmmaker who has long been fascinated by women who are able to take their struggles with them without ever breaking apart.

Of course there is more to Sandra’s life than she wants to admit. Seydoux’s performance, coupled with Hansen-Løve’s screenplay, delicately alludes – and at times candidly – addresses the emotional turmoil that lurks beneath Sandra’s every waking moment. In A nice morning, Sandra von Seydoux is portrayed as a woman who needs not only stability but also distraction. She finds much of the latter, if not necessarily much of the former, in an affair she spontaneously begins with an old married friend, Clément (Melvil Poupaud).

The more Sandra struggles with her father’s illness, the more desperately she tries to hold Clément. Doing so is a foolish undertaking, and Clément’s conflicting desires to stay with his wife and Sandra both cause more than their fair share of arguments. While Hansen-Løve also portrays Sandra and Clément’s affair with her usual clear-eyed honesty, there are moments in the second act of the film in which the on and off nature of A nice morningThe central romance of begins to repeat itself.

Léa Seydoux sits next to Camille Leban Martins in One Fine Morning.
Carole Bethuel / Les Films Pelleas. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

As can occasionally be the case with Hansen-Løve’s male characters, Clément never feels as concrete or compelling as Sandra von Seydoux or even Sandra’s mother Françoise, played with genuine confidence and wit by Nicole Garcia. Melvil Poupaud’s performance also never comes close to Seydoux’s intensity or emotional vulnerability, making Sandra and Clément’s romance seem oddly monotonous at certain points. Luckily, while Sandra spends a lot of time thinking about Clément, her affair isn’t the focus A nice morning.

Over the course of its 112-minute run, the film uses all of the specific details of Sandra’s life to paint a compelling, gently heartbreaking portrait of a woman’s largely mundane existence. When all is said and done, Sandra feels as well drawn and compelling as any of Hansen-Løve’s previous heroines, and that’s thanks to both the film’s unsentimental script and Seydoux’s raw, compelling central performance.

The tragedy of Sandra’s father’s illness serves as a constant reminder A nice morning how easily everything can slip away from us. Her desire to capture everything around her with as much passion and hope as possible is both tragically misguided and all too understandable, and ultimately therein lies the true magic of Hansen-Løve’s films. The French filmmaker makes films about people who, even in the midst of monumental chaos, always manage to find new paths – no matter how shaky they may be.

In A nice morningit’s impossible to overlook the cracks in the makeshift foundation Sandra von Seydoux is building for herself, but that makes her desire to stand on it all the more admirable – if a little painful.

A nice morning is now playing in selected theaters.

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