Two of Us (CREDIT: Magnolia Pictures)

Starring: Barbara Sukowa, Martine Chevallier, Léa Drucker

Director: Filippo Meneghetti

Running Time: 95 Minutes

Rating: Unrated (I’d give it a PG-13 – it’s not too explicit)

Release Date: February 5, 2021 (Theaters and On Demand)

Sometimes I like to offer my skewed take on movie reviews by asking, “Does the title of this movie have something to do with this random connection I’m making?” So with that in mind, does the contemporary French romance Two of Us have anything to do with that scene from the 1932 horror flick Freaks in which a bunch of characters chant “One of us! One of us!”? It almost certainly doesn’t. The French title, after all, is Deux, which translates to just “Two” without the “of us.” And I can’t say that I detect any references to circus folk, literal or metaphorical, in Two of Us. But there may be one notable similarity, insofar as Two of Us is also concerned with the outcasts of society.

Early on in Two of Us, a woman named Nina (Barbara Sukowa) is getting annoyed at her neighbor Madeleine (Martine Chevallier) as they attempt to sell Madeleine’s home. So Nina blows up and shouts at the realtor, “Mr. Bremond, do you have a problem with old dykes?” Mr. Bremond is unsure how to answer, but it’s made perfectly clear that no, in fact, he has no problem with lesbians of a certain age (and if he did, he would probably be too afraid of Nina to say so). The actual problem is with Madeleine, who doesn’t exactly want to tell her family about Nina, who’s been her secret lover for decades. What’s notable about Two of Us compared to most other queer cinematic romances I’ve seen is that the society we see doesn’t much care that there’s a same-sex couple in their midst. This is very much an intra-family conflict, nothing more.

But within that straightforward setup, Two of Us offers surprises. Because of Madeleine’s health struggles, the narrative isn’t so simple as “secret romance” or “one lover tries to convince partner to be honest to family.” Madeleine suffers a stroke, rendering her unable to speak for herself, which has the oddly slapstick-y effect of making the subterfuge somewhat reminiscent of a heist caper, while also throwing in elements of blackmail amidst the emotional land mines. In life, plenty of people really have to fight to be allowed to love the people they love. Sometimes that fight is silly, sometimes it’s infuriating, sometimes it’s profoundly unpredictable, and sometimes it’s quite touching, and maybe most of the time, it’s a mix of all of the above. That’s certainly the case in Two of Us.

Two of Us is Recommended If You Like: Senior cinematic romances,

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Old Dykes