If you, reader, are anything like me, you are hip to any and all entries into the sapphic film canon. From Desert Hearts to Booksmart, every time there are two ladies kissing, my corner of Twitter rejoices, shooting rainbow fireworks into the air and cheering on the demise of men and heterosexuality. However, even Two of Us managed to escape my notice until recently, a film about two elderly women who are in love but are put in an impossible position. Two of Us, or Deux in its native French, is France’s official entry into the Academy Awards, and has recently been nominated for Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language in the Golden Globes. This film is a gorgeous piece on love and the obstacles one must overcome for it, and I believe is rightfully being recognized as an integral new addition to the sapphic film canon.
Old People Love, Too!
Two of Us stars Barbara Sukowa and Martine Chevallier as Nina and Madeleine respectively. Nina and Madeleine have been neighbors for years, and while Madeleine’s children and friends think Nina is just her pal, they’ve been in love for decades and fantasize about moving to Rome together. As Madeleine is getting ready to finally come out to her children, Anne (Léa Drucker) and Frédéric (Jérôme Varanfrain) she suffers a stroke, and Nina finds herself iced out of her lover’s life. What follows is Nina’s quest to secure her and Madeleine’s happiness, which Madeleine clearly wants even in her nonverbal state. The story is poignant without being melodramatic or tragic, and allows for a lot of gorgeous acting from Sukowa. Both her and Chevallier really sell the little slice of this lifelong love story we are getting. The writers, Malysone Bovorasmy, Filippo Meneghetti, and Florence Vignon really captured something both fleeting and solid, the love these two women have for each other.
Meneghetti also directed Two of Us, his first full narrative feature as a director. He does a great job of keeping the tone loving and hopeful, while still acknowledging the difficulties that come with Madeleine’s struggle to come out. Her children are against it, and actively try to keep Nina from her. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s still surpassable for Nina and Madeleine.
I also want to give a lot of credit to Chevallier, who is nonverbal for most of the film, and also unable to use her body because of Madeleine’s stroke. Chevallier uses her eyes and the slightest movements of her mouth to show disdain, anger, longing, and most notably, love and desire for Nina. It was entrancing to watch her subtly convey more emotion with her eyes than other actors can with pages of dialogue and access to all means of body language. It’s masterful, but according to her IMDb, with 63 acting credits, it makes sense that she’s pretty good at it.
Love is in the Air
Aurélien Marra, the cinematographer, deserves a world of credit as well. Marra works with a somewhat limited space, the two apartments and the surrounding neighborhood, and really helps to create a loving and dreamy atmosphere that these two women inhabit. The shots of Nina and Madeleine in bed, cooking with each other, embracing after a day apart, dancing throughout their two apartments, they all work to show these two women as individuals and how they function apart, but also how cohesive and in love they are with one another. These women are soulmates. The lighting, the close-up camera angles, the set, all show how crucial these two women are to one another. It makes me teary to reflect on even now, to think I have a chance of being loved in this way.
They Will Find A Way
The conflict of Two of Us requires an obstacle Nina and Madeleine have to overcome, but the resolution shows there is nothing that can keep these two lovers apart. While they never took wedding vows, and indeed Madeleine was previously married, it’s clear Nina and Madeleine take them more seriously than most other couples. In sickness like Madeleine’s stroke and in health, for richer or poorer like when Nina is robbed, for better, for worse, to love and to cherish, till death do they part. And I, for one, think death is the only thing that could keep these two apart, and the only thing keeping me from thinking of this film every day.
Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on Two of Us? Comment below!
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