Sandra, a translator and single (Léa Seydoux), lives in Paris with her daughter, and visits Georg, her aging father (Pascal Greggory) whenever she can. Georg lives in a small apartment, full of books, it’s his life. The former professor is a gentle man and his students adore him. Suffering from a neurodegenerative disease, he accepts his defeat as an old gentleman who is losing his mind. Sandra, she wants to enjoy their last moments of complicity. But Georg’s condition worsens and she sets out to find a decent, reasonably priced accommodation in the capital. A difficult mission, which will lead the family from Ehpad to Ehpad, and the spectator with it, in a realistic vein, with attention to the work of caregivers.
Residents roam around, get the wrong room, are politely escorted out. So many images and questions that have become familiar in recent years, which the cinema is beginning to explore – we also think of the beautiful documentary by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Yann Coridian, A 90 year old girlbroadcast on Arte in 2017.
In this film inspired by her personal experience, Mia Hansen-Løve brings together a tandem of sensitive actors, whom she films in an almost documentary mode. At 67, Pascal Greggory succeeds in imprinting on his face the transition from awakening to a cottony state, playing with his gaze and his luminous smile. He also keeps a childish side when he mixes the brushes, looking in the room for his companion Leila. He is a man without stories, who will leave only good memories, far from the old temperament interpreted by André Dussollier in Everything went well (2021), by François Ozon.
At the antipodes of the femme fatale, Léa Seydoux embodies a beautiful person, endearing, making the link with the rest of the family. Undoubtedly to add a little salt, the script incorporates the character of the father’s ex-wife (Nicole Garcia), a bit crazy, but not very credible as a lady on the left reconverted into activism (Extinction Rebellion), recounting her night at the post. This talkative, erudite film, which runs along the shelves of books, gives rise to a comic sequence when the daughter of Sandra (amazing Camille Leban Martins) deciphers the names of writers on a phonetic mode – this results in Goète instead of Goethe.
This end-of-life tale, à la Rohmer, would make a film on its own, but the filmmaker adds a love story to it. Either the meeting, at the Jardin des Plantes, of Sandra and Clément (Melvil Poupaud), a long-lost friend. He is a cosmo-chemist, explorer, and lives with his wife. Sandra and Clément meet again, become lovers. But Clément is torn, feeling guilty. That’s life, nothing extraordinary, but it’s hard to feel the mad love that drives this couple. Melvil Poupaud, on the reserve, and Léa Seydoux, all in her sadness, do not help us to believe in this irresistible connection, whose progression by stages becomes laborious, dulling the film. Astonishing paradox thatA nice morning finds its breath in its most twilight scenes.
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