Nina and Madeleine live in separate apartments across the hall from each other, but they’re more than merely neighbors. They’re lovers who’ve managed to keep their lesbian relationship secret all these years.
Nina (Barbara Sukowa) and Madeleine (Martine Chevallier) are the central fugues in Filippo Meneghetti’s poignant romantic French-language drama, which will be available on VOD platforms starting on February 5.
Nina, a single woman originally from Berlin, and Madeleine, a widow and a grandmother, have big plans. They’re seriously thinking resettling in Rome where, as Nina says, “we can be who we want.”
Before they can realize their dream, they must sell their respective flats. Nina is glad to hear that Madeleine’s apartment can fetch a handsome price, but is disappointed to learn that Madeleine did not have the courage of her convictions and follow through.
First, she backed out of a deal with a real estate agent to put her flat up for sale. Second, she did not have the nerve to tell her adult children, daughter Anne (Lea Drucker) and son Frederic (Jerome Varanfrain), about their plans.
At her birthday party, Madeleine finally seems ready to come out of the closet and speak the truth about Nina and herself, but the words remain stuck in her mind. Being a conventional woman in all other respects, she cannot admit she’s gay. In a nuanced performance, Chevallier conveys this tension quite effortlessly.
The plot takes a twist when Nina finds Madeleine on the floor of her kitchen. Having had a stroke, Madeleine is rushed to a hospital. Anne informs Nina that Madeleine may not be able to speak again. It’s a heartbreaking time for Nina, judging by a sequence of somber scenes. Sukowa is superb as Madeleine.
Nina’s mood turns still darker after her access to Madeleine is curtailed. Madeleine, having been brought home to convalesce, is now looked after by Muriel (Muriel Benazeraf), a caretaker who rejects Nina’s offers to assist her. Upset at being excluded from Madeleine’s life, Nina lashes out in an attempt to undermine Muriel.
Amid this turmoil, Anne grows suspicious of Nina’s motives, not yet realizing what kind of intimate bond binds her mother to Nina.
Anne, who has been laboring under an illusion that her parents were soul mates, does everything in her power to separate Madeleine from Nina, but her tactics are only partially successful.
Meneghetti’s movie underscores the point that true love cannot be sidetracked and is everlasting.