Close to the start and the top of “One Fine Morning,” Mia Hansen-Løve’s lucid, affecting and radiantly clever new film, Sandra (Léa Seydoux) drops by to see her father, Georg (Pascal Greggory). The months separating these two visits — although there have been many different visits in between — have aged them each, Georg extra visibly. Already disoriented by his small Paris condo within the early scenes, on account of a neurological sickness that’s quick claiming his sight and his reminiscence, he’s, by the top, ever much less sure of his environment and even the identities of his guests. You see the passage of time in his distant gaze and slow-shuffling gait, and also you additionally see it when Sandra, usually a gentle, calming presence, steps apart and begins to cry.
Relaxation assured that I’ve given away nothing, and that I doubt there’s a extra spoiler-proof film — or a extra sleek, shifting one — arriving in theaters this week. As with numerous movies set to the heart beat of abnormal life, you get the sense that this one may have ended a number of beats sooner or, ideally, later. Hansen-Løve, who wrote in addition to directed, doesn’t measure her tales when it comes to typical narrative progress. She is aware of that real-life drama is usually incremental, and that it takes form by repetitions, variations, problems each main and minor. What occurs to her characters — a go to, a meltdown, a setback, a breakthrough — is seldom taking place to them for the primary or final time.
And so for a lot of “One Fine Morning,” we’re following Sandra, a widowed mom and freelance interpreter, by a well-known routine: checking in on her father, translating speeches and conversations for work, and choosing up her younger daughter, Linn (Camille Leban Martins), from faculty. Even when Sandra has a fateful run-in with Clément (Melvil Poupaud), an previous good friend who’s unhappily married with a child of his personal, their quick spark and straightforward conversational circulate recommend the newest piece in a mosaic they’ve been constructing for some time.
Earlier than lengthy and with a bracing lack of fanfare, Sandra and Clément are having an affair, one which programs with ardour however, like every little thing else, must be folded and generally compelled into the parameters of on a regular basis life. To make love or not make love, to remain collectively or spend time aside: No resolution or improvement, massive or small, exists in a vacuum. Right here and in her earlier, equally well-observed dramas (“Eden,” “Things to Come”), Hansen-Løve has an intuitive sense of life’s fragmentation — one thing she hints at by generally opening and reducing off scenes mid-conversation or mid-gesture. (The relaxed modifying is by Marion Monnier, the luminous cinematography by Denis Lenoir.)
She additionally has, in Seydoux, a collaborator whose not possible glamour and outsized dramatic items — she’s performed a stormy lover in “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” a well-liked TV journalist in “France” and an unusually resonant and enigmatic Bond woman — have generally obscured her capability for work this stealthily modest, this fine-grained and totally felt. Strolling down the road in a sweater and a short-cropped Jean Seberg haircut, Seydoux dissolves into Sandra’s world fantastically. What holds you, as a lot because the actor’s pure magnetism, is her means to carry issues again, her expertise for emotional reserve. Like lots of people in actual life, Sandra is in no hurry to announce who she is, partly as a result of she’s nonetheless figuring that out.
And “One Fine Morning,” with its gently staccato rhythms and slyly unpredictable construction, is in no hurry to clue us in, both. You would name this a film a few lady studying to say goodbye to her father whereas embracing the potential for new love, and also you’d be proper, although on the danger of creating it sound extra diagrammatic than it performs. You may simply as properly name it a film in regards to the pleasures of strolling round Montmartre, sharing an ice cream cone or hiding Christmas presents below the tree. Or the difficulties of navigating France’s elder-care system, one thing that Sandra should undertake together with her sister and her mom, Françoise (the actor and filmmaker Nicole Garcia), who divorced Georg years in the past however stays, at the very least now, very a lot part of his life.
Expository flashbacks could be antithetical to Hansen-Løve’s aims, however right here, with wordless economic system, she pries open a window into previous tales, previous experiences. You surprise about Françoise and Georg’s earlier life collectively, particularly their shared mental life, one thing the film hints at with their matching wall-to-wall bookshelves. A bookshelf is rarely only a bookshelf in a Mia Hansen-Løve film; it’s a set of reminiscences, an assertion of id and an index of a life properly lived. In one of many film’s most softly piercing moments, Sandra muses, “I feel closer to my father with his books than with him” — a line that conjoins her reminiscence of who he was and her grief over that reminiscence beginning to slip away.
Like Isabelle Huppert’s protagonist in “Things to Come,” Georg — performed with aching sensitivity by Greggory — is a trainer of philosophy, and “One Fine Morning” itself feels effortlessly, casually philosophical. Unencumbered by apparent symbolism or windy speeches, even when the characters have a tendency towards their very own moments of introspection, it speaks quietly and assuredly to how we reside and deal with one another, how we take care of the younger and previous and everybody in between, ourselves included. The solutions it comes up with are by no means mounted, and it’s right here that Hansen-Løve’s use of repetition proves particularly revealing — not only a reminder of life’s stasis, however a measure of 1’s means to maneuver ahead.
At one level, whereas touring a nursing house for Georg, Sandra is confronted with what’s going to change into a well-known incidence: an aged resident stumbling into the flawed room unawares. The primary time it occurs comes as a gentle shock to Sandra and her household, who’ve taken care of one another with out realizing what it means to be a caretaker. By the third or fourth time, they’ve discovered to step in, take this surprising customer by the arm and assist them discover their approach. It’s a easy, fleeting gesture, one nearly left out by the digital camera and unlikely to be seen by the employees who carry out the identical gesture each day. However on this fantastically bittersweet and beneficiant film — which, like life itself, attracts no distinction between the numerous and the insignificant — it someway additionally means the world.
‘One Fine Morning’
In French with English subtitles
Rated: R, for some sexuality, nudity and language
Taking part in: Laemmle Royal, West Los Angeles