Movie: TWO OF US
Rating: NR, French, with English subtitles
Release Date: February 5, 2021
Jeanne: It Is tragic that still today people are unable to live their lives as they wish out of fear of repercussions. Such is the case of Nina (Barbara Sukowa) and Madeleine (Martine Chevallier), two retired women who share the top floor of their building in director Filippo Meneghetti’s first feature film TWO OF US, which he co-wrote with Malysone Bovorasmy.
Nina, who never married, and Madeleine, who is widowed, met decades earlier and have been secretly in love. Madeleine has two adult children who have no idea that their mother is in a loving relationship with Nina. They believe that they are simply neighbors and friends.
Madeleine is preparing to sell her apartment and the two women plan to move to Rome together. Nina expects Madeleine to inform her children and her one grandson of the move when they gather to celebrate Madeleine’s birthday. But she loses her nerve and the ensuing argument between the lovers triggers a health emergency for Madeleine.
The two are now kept apart by Madeleine’s health caregiver, Muriel (Muriel Bénazéraf), and Madeleine’s daughter, Anne (Léa Drucker), who has become suspicious of Nina’s overly invasive behavior. As Anne begins to realize the depths of their friendship, Madeleine and Nina refuse to be apart.
TWO OF US is a beautiful and powerful love story, so wonderfully written by Meneghetti and Bovorasmy. There are no wasted words here, just meaningful dialogue punctuated by sublime acting from Sukowa and Chevallier.
It’s incredibly refreshing to watch two older women play roles mostly available to younger actors only. They have an ease with each other that is undeniable, and their bond is cemented by love and respect. Anyone watching TWO OF US wants them to be happy and be together --- a natural progression for any two people who are devoted to one another.
As I have mentioned many times before, small films like TWO OF US, and the most recent SUPERNOVA, are amongst my most favorite. Any movie which is as well conceived, written and acted as this deserves to be seen and appreciated.
Opinion: Strong See It Now!
David: It seems most films about homosexuality focus on young, beautiful subjects, almost as if older gay folks are not interesting enough to have a movie made about them. But the new French film TWO OF US breaks that mold in a big way, as does the other new release SUPERNOVA. Two aging women live in the same building on the top floor, in separate apartments, which allows them to maintain their secret from family and friends even as they spend every day and night together.
Nina Dorn (70-year-old German actress Barbara Sukowa) and Madeleine ‘Mado’ Girard (71-year-old French actress Martine Chevallier) are devoted lovers and best friends. They dream of leaving their home in favor of settling in Rome where they met some 20 years earlier. The two characters are instantly likeable thanks to these two veteran performers.
However, Mado, who was prepared to sell her apartment for a tidy sum which would enable them to live comfortably in Italy, cannot bring herself to tell her daughter, Anne (Léa Drucker), of their plans. Everything really goes off the rails when Mado suffers a medical emergency. The result is that TWO OF US morphs into somewhat of a thriller.
Mado’s caregiver, Muriel (Muriel Bénazéraf), nearly steals the show with her bulbous eyes and off-putting personality. Nina does her best to convince Muriel that she is perfectly capable of pitching in to help with Mado’s care --- even something as innocuous as watching Mado while Muriel shops for food. But the obstinate caregiver spurns her help at every turn.
Director and co-writer Filippo Meneghetti, in his feature film debut, has fashioned an enthralling story about the lengths to which a loving partner will go to maintain a relationship. But nothing in TWO OF US is over the top or unfathomable. We can see ourselves in Nina’s desperation to reach through to her beloved Mado, even when everything seems hopeless. It’s inspiring to experience as the story unravels.
Dorn and Chevallier are wonderful. Their performances and the smart script are a lesson in love that is something we could all use these days. While TWO OF US is a reminder that not everyone is free to live their lives in peace, it also suggests that nothing is impossible if you want it badly enough.
The movie is a superb first effort by Meneghetti. His picture, initially titled DEUX, has garnered respect in a variety of film festivals and will be France’s entry for Best International Feature Film at the 2021 Academy Awards.
Opinion: See It Now!