–Arts and letters for the modern age–

Cathode Ray Zone

–Arts and Letters for the Modern Age–

One Fine Morning Finds Hope in Despair

by | Mar 24, 2023

A wry look at a single mother raising a daughter, One Fine Morning frames the story in a dramatic context yet constantly finds humor and good nature in the story.

It’s a kind of Gallic kitchen-sink realism that pays attention to the thoughts and feelings of Léa Seydoux as Sandra. The realism doesn’t really pertain to her environment so much as the life situations Sandra constantly faces.

Despite her obvious natural beauty she lives in loneliness, admitting to a friend that it’s hard to meet new people with her responsibilities to her daughter. Five years have passed since her husband died.

If that isn’t enough Sandra also deals, along with her sister, with their rapidly degenerating father. Getting rid of a lifetime of books and personal items when they are struggling to pay for his nursing home complicates matters.

A relationship with a long time friend, himself married, gets serious and the film wavers into romantic tones that seem to lift Sandra out of her doldrums. But then there’s the back and forth as her new lover wavers about whether he’s going to leave his wife.

Director Mia Hansen-Løve never allows One Fine Morning to bring the audience down and finds flourishes that constantly lighten the mood. Hansen-Løve has been churning out some of the most sophisticated art films that shift in tone in recent memory. Just look at her previous film Bergman’s Island.

Meanwhile, Sandra’s daughter has developed a psychosomatic limp. “Let it play out,” the doctor tells Sandra. “She’s just going through a phase. How are things at home?

You don’t know whether to laugh or cry at Sandra’s life. 

One Fine Morning is not a Christmas movie, yet there’s a holiday scene that’s one of the best ever depicted on film. Sandra’s relatives and their various kids have gathered for Christmas. They send the kids to their room and proceed to make sounds that indicate Santa Claus has arrived and is climbing through a window to leave presents. It’s an uplifting sequence and gives the audience hope that for at least this moment, Sandra and everyone around her will surmount their travails in life. Seydoux is magnetic and easily makes One Fine Morning a pleasure to watch.