Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2020 7:42 am 
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FILIPPO MENEGHETTI: TWO OF US/DEUX (2019) - NEW DIRECTORS/NEW FILMS

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MADELEINE CHEVALLIER, BARBARA SUKOWA IN TWO OF US/DEUS

Secret lesbian romance leads to complications in Italian Filippo Meneghetti's directorial debut, in French and set somewhere in the south of France and shot near Montpellier.

Former tour guide Nina Dorn (the handsome Barbara Sukowa, a protegee of Fassbinder), who lives in a facing apartment on the top floor of the building, has long been the lover of Madeleine (Martinme Chevallier of the Comédie-Francaise), but secretly; no one, even Maddie's adult divorced daughter Anne (Léa Drucker), knows about this relationship, though how very loving and happy it is we are shown very clearly in scenes of sweetness and smiles. The couple is well into retirement age, but only now they are planning to sell Madeleine's very nice apartment and go to live together at last, in Rome where they met so many years ago. An Italian version of a corny but romantic pop song is their reminder of that moment; they dance to it still.

The plan is for Maddie to tell Anne about the relationship and the plan. Not surprisingly, after all these years of secrecy, in the event, at the end of a birthday dinner for her, she chokes. She just doesn't seem to be ready to do it. When Nina finds out this change of heart from the real estate agent, it's beyond disappointing and into infuriating. Nina speaks harshly with the more conventional Maddie in the street in front of the estate agent.

The result of this spat is dramatic indeed. Shortly thereafter, Maddie has a stroke. The bulk of the movie is what happens after that.

The film has had a good reception in France. It is slated for US release by Magnolia in Feb. 2021. It's in a good position, but its status as a bold work by a new director fits it, marginally, for the New Directors series, though it seems like firm arthouse material. I sympathize with the writer for the French publication Les Inrockuptibles who said it took two great actresses to crack the code of the sometimes clumsy and maladroit direction. There are many early hints, for instance, of a distance between the two women that are not appropriate; the camera is often either too close or too far away. Expressionism wasn't needed!

Meneghetti stirs up a good deal of melodrama, where it might do better to have drawn up a screenplay that showed how such very human problems might be safely resolved. After a while, we're just in a movie The action seems to me rather implausible, and at once too eventful and too slow. But the look of the film is handsome, and the ladies are, needless to say, magnificent. Numerous viewers (Letterboxd, for instance) have expressed gratitude for a movie about older lesbians, and asked for more. In that this is welcome. Women who identify with Maddie and Nina will appreciate this film, even though its story details may not have that much to do with them.

Two of Us/Deux, 95 mins., debuted at Toronto and showed in at least 15 other international festivals, including ND/NF, as part of the virtual form of which it was reviewed for this film. AlloCiné press rating 3/6/5.

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