Flippo Meneghetti’s feature debut Two of Us is a heartbreaking look at the battle to keep love together during the most trying of times. A drama that tenderly and carefully carries you along, and like Nina, makes sure never to let you go.
Two retired women, Nina (Barbara Sukowa) and Madeleine (Martine Chevallier) have been secretly in love for decades. Everybody, including Madeleine’s family, thinks they are simply neighbours, sharing the top floor of their building. So they come and go between their two apartments, enjoying the affection and pleasures of daily life together, until an unforeseen event turns their relationship upside down and leads Madeleine’s daughter to unravel the truth about them gradually.
The opening portion of Two of Us gently weaves us into this wonderful romance between Nina and Madeleine. It is clear for all to see how in love they are. Yet for as much as Nina wants to let everyone outside of their top floor apartments see that beautiful (and at times happily lusty) relationship, Madeleine is hesitant, not wanting word to get out to her family before she can tell them, despite being together for decades. Other than the event that happens later in the film, this small but noteworthy topic drives the film.
To see a relationship built on secrecy also have its moments of when the two are free to be themselves with their doors open to one another warms you and you feel entwined in this relationship. So when those previously open doors are slammed shut in the most sudden and wrenching of ways, it hits you like a bomb. This is exemplified in a stunning shot from the director of photography Aurélien Marra that is so simple with a static shot of just some food burning on a hob. Add this with the frequent tight shots of our cast, and your heart just breaks time after time.
With our couple unable to be around each other due to Madeleine’s hesitance to inform her family of the separation, we see how it eats away at Nina. She is restless and practically uncontrollable after the incident, and that drives the film. We want the two back together, in whatever form that may be. Two of Us is a straightforward story executed to almost perfection by director Meneghetti, who makes sure to take his time with his story. He can focus or highlight the small moments within characters very well.
Both actresses are on top form here in Two of Us, Chevallier has quite the difficult task of being restricted, yet she can give us a character who understands that she waited too long to tell everyone the truth and her desperation to have Nina by her side at all times almost breaks you as an audience member. Equally, Sukowa has to push the story forward, to be a relentless soul doing everything and anything to be with the woman that she loves. The actresses compliment each other wonderfully as Sukowa’s panic becomes more urgent the longer she is kept away from Madeleine. You fully understand why she is doing it yet know that it could all be for nothing.
With Nina on the verge of crumbling at any moment, words should be shared for the great performance from Léa Drucker as Anne, Madeleine’s daughter. She walks a careful line where she almost has to be the anchor due to the complicated and differing stories ongoing between the two older women. When the truth does begin to unravel, you may disagree with her decisions, but you understand them. She is hurting just as much as Nina and is simply trying to do her best. So as Anne rifles through photo albums to cement her theory, her confliction is plain to see.
There are the occasional moments of disconnect in Two of Us with one character, but that could be due to Meneghetti trying to flesh out his story more. In truth, it wasn’t needed as our two leads and Drucker do enough on-screen to deliver a captivating picture that focuses on the loyalty of love, even when it is known to only two people.
Two of Us is released in UK Theatrical and digital release 16th July.
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