A Fine Morning film review by Mia Hansen-Løve

A beautiful morning – movie review by Mia Hansen-Løve with Léa Seydoux, Pascal Gregory and Melvil Poupaud

To be released in Italian cinemas on January 12, 2023, A beautiful morning (A beautiful morning) was presented in the Directors’ Fortnight of the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival. The latest feature film by the French director is a return to her origins: her first films were melancholic tales moved between family stories and unexpected loves, and for this reason A beautiful morning it is the most complete work of a director capable of making simplicity the emblem of the greatest contemporary human tragedies.

Léa Seydoux and Pascal Greggory in A Beautiful Morning
Léa Seydoux and Pascal Greggory in A Beautiful Morning (credits: Les Films Pelléas/Teodora Film)

A disarming film about life: A beautiful morning it is the drapery of an existence between rebirth and mourning.

What do we leave behind us? What best constitutes our essence? How will we be remembered?

Sandra Kinsler (Léa Seydoux) is a translator devoted to her work and caring for the people she loves. She lives in a small apartment in Paris and her days go by monotonously as she juggles taking care of her daughter and looking after her father Georg (Pascal Gregory) which is disappearing due to a neurodegenerative disease, Benson’s syndrome. Georg’s slow memory loss forces Sandra and her sister to search for a nursing home: a safe place where his father can be cared for in his last days as he sinks deeper and deeper into confusion – a long descent he leaves behind an apartment whose walls are lined with books – and it is in those books that Sandra tries to keep the memory of her father alive.

The pain for a father who is no longer able to recognize her is accompanied in this feature film by a newfound and unexpected happiness. Meeting an old friend, Clement (Melvil Poupaud), makes Sandra rediscover love and passion five years after her husband’s death.

A beautiful morning proceeds on these two tracks: on the one hand an overwhelming love story, on the other the slow loss of the father. The true weight of the drama is constituted in everyday life: human experience is made up of deep pain and immense joy at the same time.

Sandra (Léa Seydoux) and Clément (Melvil Poupaud) in A Beautiful Morning
Sandra (Léa Seydoux) and Clément (Melvil Poupaud) in A Beautiful Morning (credits: Les Films Pelléas/Teodora Film)

Suffering and happiness are intertwined in a disarming, yet natural, tale of the brutality of human experience.

Deeply autobiographical, A beautiful morning tells the story of the director, whose father, Ole Hansen-Løve, suffered from a degenerative condition in the last years of his life – Benson’s syndrome, which affects the same character played with so much grace and melancholy by Pascal Gregory. It is Hansen-Løve’s own willingness to take inspiration from his own pain that guarantees the purity of his gaze on the story and the consequent feeling of closeness that the work establishes with the public, who will enthusiastically participate in Sandra’s life.

Mia Hansen-Løve he tells with incredible sweetness the melancholy of his characters, everyday figures who face great obstacles without heroism. Impossible to stop shedding tears in front of the daily pain, impossible not to be moved by the coincidences of life, while a relationship goes out and another begins, two inextricable threads of pain and happiness. In telling both there is a lot of sensitivity.

Léa Seydoux (Sandra) and Camille Leban Martins (Linn) in A beautiful morning
Léa Seydoux (Sandra) and Camille Leban Martins (Linn) in A Beautiful Morning (credits: Les Films Pelléas/Teodora Film)

Hansen-Løve returns to move the characters in his Paris, between small apartments, narrow streets, gardens and historic places – that city told so well that it becomes an invisible character in his stories. Bourgeois Paris made up of humanist intellectuals, whose book collections tell much more than any dialogue. They are two recurring figures for Hansen-Løve, perhaps the “characters” that the director will never abandon since it is through them that she has always told; as it was for the character of Isabelle Huppert in it the future, so it is for Léa Seydoux. Sandra rebuilds herself and her relationship with her father by arranging her books: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe among the German writers, Elias Canetti among the Austrians, Hannah Arendt with the philosophers and it is thanks to the autobiographical book that her father had begun to write in his mother tongue, German, that Sandra thinks back to her life. The title of the book, A beautiful morningbecomes for Sandra a warning for her future, trying to look at what is born in front of her without worrying about what vanishes.

A beautiful morning once again demonstrates the greatness of Mia Hansen-Løve’s direction whose skill is reflected in a rarefied narrative, made up of everyday life and empathy, human relationships in continuous evolution and self-search between loss and new beginnings.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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