‘Two of Us’ Review: Thwarted Love


Nina (the respected German actress Barbara Sukowa) and Madeleine (Martine Chevallier) have waited decades to love each other freely. At the beginning of “Two of Us”, the retired women – their romance was long hidden under the guise of friendship – prepare to leave France to start over in Rome. Shy, dutiful Madeleine, a widowed mother nicknamed “Mado,” has to see her children first before she can realize her dream, but tragedy strikes before she can tell her truth. A stroke leaves Mado speechless and paralyzed and throws the couple deeper into the closet in already devastating times.

Filippo Meneghetti’s pulsating romantic drama creates heartache and intrigue from Nina’s relentless efforts to bond with her disabled lover. Nina is played by Sukowa (“Hannah Arendt”, “Lola”) with palpable desperation and ferocity, and Mado’s unsuspecting children relegated to the status of a friendly neighbor. Yet she skillfully maneuvers herself into Mado’s life with an obstinacy that never overshadows her pain.

The film’s us-versus-you dynamic increases the injustice of the situation and brings anger and pathos to this tale of foiled love at the expense of its supportive players: a grumpy caregiver with North African roots provides a cheap punching bag, and Mado is skinny children Those who cling to their parents’ fantasy of true love turn out to be disproportionately vicious.

Despite these inventions and a climax that passes into the territory of the Maudlins, Meneghetti and the cameraman Aurélien Marra evoke the pain of strange desire in a wonderful way. Through the use of symbolic peepholes, eavesdropping and dark rooms that cover the whispered assurances of devotion, “Two of Us” succeeds as a secret representation of lesbian eroticism that reflects the inhibitions of a generation.

Two of us
Not rated. In French with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 39 minutes. In theaters and in virtual cinemas. Please read the Policies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching films in theaters.


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Robert Dunfee