Deux, known as Two of Us in its English release, sounds like the epitome of artsy cliche when first described: two French lesbians on the senior side of middle age have been carrying out a love affair for decades, which faces new boundaries when one of them has a major stroke. But director Filippo Meneghetti knows that.
Rather than waxing lyrical about the importance of their love, or how their sexuality is revolutionary and all that, main character Nina (played to perfection by Barbara Sukowa) keeps the audience in check and asks Madeline (a grand performance of stares and eyebrows by Martine Chevalier) who cares about a couple of old lesbians in this day and age, angry at being denied the chance to live their life to the fullest when Madeline is afraid to out herself, years after her husband has died. Madeline immediately has a severe stroke.
Rather than being a movie that is so gushingly romantic about lesbian lives to the point of unintentional cynicism, it takes a humourously melodramatic tone – it becomes a game of cat and mouse, as Nina sneaks around their apartment to try steal away precious moments with her love, convinced she is the only person Madeline needs.
This is primarily a movie about dignity and autonomy, with the evolving love of family and the romance of two old lesbians as the method of looking into that; well worth the watch.