Time completely escaped me today. Work was busy and after running multiple long meetings my body just turned off for a while. Thankfully, I awoke from my stupor in time to fit another Oscar shortlisted international film in.
Two of Us (2021, Dir. Filippo Meneghetti)
This movie was much bleaker than I anticipated from the initial setup. Two of Us introduces itself as a fun story of a senior lesbian couple preparing to sell their separate apartments and move together to Rome. All that remains before selling everything and moving away is for Madeleine (Martine Chevallier) to come out to her children. This premise is tailor fit for a sincere, heart-warming romantic comedy. Instead, Madeleine has a stroke leaving her in a partial vegetative state and any semblance of joy evaporates from the film.
With Madeleine rendered speechless for the rest of the film, Nina (Barbara Sukowa) is forced to navigate Madeleine’s family who think of her as nothing more than a neighbor and friend if she is to stay with the woman she loves. Separated from her partner, Nina becomes increasingly desperate in her attempts to stay connected to the point at which it ruins her life. Sukowa captures this spiral brilliantly. Her body language reflects this deterioration by mimicking a woman who hasn’t slept for increasing periods of time.
If Sukowa’s performance is showy in its deterioration, Chevallier gives an equally compelling but completely different performance. Her character being in a post stroke state, every action that Chevallier performs is incredibly subtle yet undeniably there. The slightest cracked smile when in the presence of Nina means everything to her lover looking for any sign that Madeleine is still there. The two contrasting performance sell this depressing romance.