Two of Us, Filippo Meneghetti’s touching tale of two women’s love is not your typical lesbian love story. In a world where teen angst and coming of age dramas frequently reign supreme in stories of women who love women, it’s refreshing to witness two lead characters in their seventies, touchingly portrayed by Barbara Sukova and Martine Chevallier. Yes kids – sex and love don’t stop once you reach 40. Actually, they often get better, but that’s for another time.
Here’s the set up: Nina – single, no children – and Madeleine – widowed, two grown up children – have been lovers for years but are so far inside the closet that they’re in danger of stumbling into Narnia. They each have their own apartment in the same building, separated only by a corridor, itself a metaphor for their relationship: together but not together, apart but not apart. When nobody else is around, they eat, sleep and spend time together but when, for example, Madeleine’s daughter and grandson pay a visit, Nina retreats to her own flat and, to the rest of the world, their relationship is nothing more than that of friendly neighbours.
Nina and Madeleine plan to jack in their lives in southern France and set up an out-and-proud home together in Rome…until A Big Thing happens. This Big Thing throws their plans into disarray and marginalises Nina. As events unfold, Madeleine’s daughter starts to unravel the truth about her mother and Nina, raising existential questions about her own upbringing and her parents’ relationship while trying to come to terms with the fact that her mother has been living a lie.
Sukova and Chevallier are superb in the lead roles, and it comes as no surprise to learn that the characters were written specifically for them. Special plaudits should be reserved for Léa Drucker as Madeleine’s loving daughter Anne, whose harsh reaction to her mother’s true nature does nothing to dilute the audience’s empathy for her predicament: tricky to pull off but made to look easy by Drucker.
I could have done without the blackmail subplot – it doesn’t add much to the narrative but nor does it detract from the overall enjoyment of what is a sensitively directed and beautifully acted drama. Well worth a watch.
Two of Us hits cinemas and VOD streaming services on 16th July and is distributed by Peccadillo Pictures.
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