In a rare look at older queer women in love, Two of Us, France’s official submission for Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards, tells the story of a decades-long abiding romance between women that can’t be thwarted by society or their families.
The film stars acclaimed actress Martine Chevallier (Farewell My Queen, Tell No One, Jefferson in Paris) as Madeleine, whose family thinks she is merely close friends with her “neighbor” Nina. Barbara Sukowa (Hannah Arendt, M. Butterfly, Europa) stars as Nina in the film from director Filippo Meneghetti and screenwriter Malysone Bovorasmy.
The official synopsis for Two of Us (Deux) reads:
“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 neighbors, sharing the top floor of their building. 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 gradually unravel the truth about them.”
The plot for the film was inspired by a story Meneghetti heard from a friend about two older women who kept the doors to their apartments open to one another.
“The two women were widows in their seventies, who warded off loneliness by constantly keeping their doors open and making the landing between them part of an enlarged apartment that covered the whole top floor,” Meneghetti says in press notes for the film.
“The two interconnecting apartments would be the protagonists’ living space and, at the same time, a symbolic place that reflects and expresses their dealings with the outside world,” he says.
In the exclusive clip below, Nina and Madeleine playfully dream about renting an apartment in Rome and what it would be like to start over in a place where they could be open about their love.
Two of Us is in theaters and on VOD in the United States Friday.