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Star – Kristin Scott Thomas
Genre – Romantic > Drama
Run Time – 87 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – France
Amazon – £ DVD Blue Ray
Awards – 1 Wins & 3 Nominations
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So, can a beautiful sophisticated middle-class woman fall in love with a working man, the subject of this subtle but engaging French film from director Catherine Corsini, starring one such beautiful middle-class woman, Kristin Scott Thomas. In my experience the social classes rarely mix anywhere in the world, especially in love and marriage, and if the beams do cross you tend to have upset and upheaval, also the case here. It’s why the social class system is as rigid as it is. Once you step up a level you don’t want to go back. The only time there is mutiny is when the guy is old and rich and the girl is young, pretty and greedy. Big tits and lips beat a university degree every time. As an upper working - class lad I am in that hinterland where I don’t feel I belong in the working-class but no hand willing to pull me up to the generally educated and intelligent middle - class, where I feel I belong. That’s where my dream girl is but I just can’t reach her. But like most guys I can watch Kristin Scott Thomas all day long.
Kristin Scott Thomas…. as Suzanne
Sergi López….. as Ivan
Yvan Attal……. as Samuel
Bernard Blancan…… as Rémi
Aladin Reibel…….. as Dubreuil
Alexandre Vidal…..as David
Daisy Broom….. as Marion
Berta Esquirol….. as Berta
Gérard Lartigau…. as Lagache
Philippe Laudenbach…. as Samuel's father
Geneviève Casile….. as Samuel's mother
Michèle Ernou….. as Madame Aubouy
Gorgeous 40something Suzanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) seems to have it all. Her handsome and successful doctor husband Samuel (Yvan Attal) provides her with a beautiful rustic house for their likewise two kids in the south of France and wants for nothing. But now the kids are grown up she is board of her idle bourgeois lifestyle and wants to return to work, Samuel agreeing to get the builders in and create a consulting room in the stables where she can restart her career as physiotherapist, how she met her husband, now a well respected and connected man n town, contemplating running for mayor.
Ivan (Sergi López) is the head builder; a grafter put upon in life as he his normal and bland to the eye. His attraction to her is not unexpected but for Suzanne reciprocating is, gentle flirting but nothing more at first. When Ivan damages his foot at work he needs time off to go and visit his estranged wife and daughter in Spain, Suzanne using her guilt for causing the accident as an excuse to drive him to Cadiz where she takes a room in a bed & breakfast, enjoying the rare freedom from the family. Nothing more than a rejected kiss happens but the temptation and anticipation where it could go is just what’s she needs to escape her boredom.
Back home she can resist no longer and meets the unsophisticated Ivan at his digs, where they make love, and after multiple trysts with Ivan, she confesses the affair to her devastated husband. She promises to give it up, but finds she cannot. Her daughter Marion (Daisy Broom) hates her and on dads side when she asks for a divorce, son David (Alexandre Vidal) more forgiving. She is prepared to give it all up for Ivan but Samuel not about to let her go to such a common thief and uses every tactic he can to split them up.
I enjoyed this not so much for its story but its boldness, the sort of romantic drama the French do so very well and so suited for KST. She is very good at expressing subtle nuance and plenty of that here, such a classical beauty and elegant woman on screen to enjoy. In fact she is so striking on film you wouldn’t fancy her as she is just too intimidating to take on, the point of the movie. As soon as one person feels in adequate in a relationship the partnership tends to breakdown. Men learn very quickly that women are insecure and need you to let them know you are going to be strong and take care of them and that means a hood job, a house and security, not so much being nice and not being able to cry. That’s what makes this film slightly idiotic. What exactly is broken about her marriage to justify the script?
‘Leaving’ is an intelligent film but also an unlikely one, the chances of a woman with a 100 Euro hairdo dating a builder with his ass crack showing pretty slim, the question being would a woman give up everything for love? But there is no harm in exploring that dynamic and this does a decent job at it. Is she simply rejecting the compromises she has made in life to give her an easy life? Personally I don’t believe in true love and believe people pair off with people like themselves and mainly narcissism that drives it all for men. We very rarely fancy fat people with a nice personality because that personality we like usually comes from being thin attractive person. But we want to believe we will meet our perfect mate and the movies sell us that dream.
Its subtitle heavy and fairly talky and so if you don’t like relationship movies in a foreign language then this wont be you thing. As far as the chemistry between the two it’s simply not there and makes it even harder to believe this story. But when you watch KST work its enough to justify the rent or view. She could read the phone book and it would be sexy. Yvan Attal is also an excellent actor but the romance doesn’t convince. On the whole it was enjoyable but not one to get excited about.
Imdb.com – 6.3/10.0 (votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 68% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 56% critic’s approval
Leonard Maltin – 3/4
The Mail –‘ As Suzanne's stair-stepping recklessness leads ever downward, from secret rendezvous to public humiliations to thievery and worse, "Leaving" trades sympathy for surprise’.
LA Times –‘If Leaving is a romantic parable, it is a dark and depressing one, emphasizing not the sensuality of attraction but rather the obsessive side of romantic behavior. This is mad love for sure, and that is not usually a pretty picture’.
Independent –‘ Leaving tells the kind of painful story -- of passion, betrayal, revenge -- we might read about every day in the papers, but it is the cool manner of its telling and an outstanding central performance by Kristin Scott Thomas that sharpen our interest’.
Boston Herald –‘The fact that her children have their lives upended by their mother's yearning for Lopez's low-born, bad-boy loser makes matters both worse and more idiotic than plausible’.
Boston Phoenix –‘ [Thomas] remains a mesmerizing mix of carnality and class, and through richer and poorer, she keeps director/co-writer Catherine Corsini's bourgeois fantasy from overheating.
Daily Telegraph –‘ Even for the routinely terrific Kristin Scott Thomas, the infidelity-themed Leaving is a top-drawer thesping workout’.
Washington Post –‘If "Leaving" is a story of a broken marriage, what, exactly, went wrong?
Pictures of Leavin
Actors: Kristin Scott Thomas, Yvan Attal, Sergi Lopez
Directors: Catherine Corsini
Region: Region 2
Number of discs: 1
DVD Release Date: 29 Nov 2010
Run Time: 85 minutes
This French drama tells the story of Suzanne, a housewife and mother who, like many women, finds herself floundering as her children grow into adults and her role in the family takes on a less full time commitment. She decides to fill this emptiness by returning to work as a physiotherapist with the intention of working from home. This requires renovations to outbuildings on the land close to her house and the work is contracted out to a firm of builders. Suzanne's husband, an eminent doctor, is not happy with the quotes he receives for the work, and the builder agrees to scale down the operation hiring temporary help to cut costs. It is through this avenue that Suzanne meets Ivan - an odd job man with a prison history. It is no ordinary meeting as there is a mutual attraction between them, and as passion ignites what follows presents a horrendous dilemma in which Suzanne must consider her life and her future. To understand the twists and turns of events requires a lot of empathy, and I can highly recommend this steamy French drama which uncovers so much about human nature and emotional turmoil.
This is a recent film made in 2009 and available from Amazon for £9.99. They also have other copies sold on the marketplace more cheaply which are both new and second hand.
The film is in French with English subtitles- but if you don't speak French don't worry the subtitles are secondary. The drama is more than enough to be self explanatory so the French dialogue adds to the atmosphere, and a quick glance at the text is all that is required.
Kristin Scott Thomas plays the leading role in this film alongside Yvan Attal who plays her husband Samuel, and the part of Ivan is played by Sergi Lopez. Samuel acts well but Kristin excels as each scene unfolds she portrays her part so credibly. This is not a film to watch with the family - it is a fiery, passionate affair which develops when a chance encounter creates a possibility. Set in Languedoc and Roussillon amongst stunning French scenery, there is no doubt that the landscape and the beauty paints the backdrop perfectly.
The film is really about what happens to a woman who loses her identity as an individual. She has been taken care of financially for two decades in exchange for cooking chickens and doing laundry. This has gone on for too long and her life is devoid of youthful excitement. You can see the drudgery rooted in the eyes of Suzanne which gleam and sparkle when she thinks of Ivan. What she portrays so well throughout the film is the compulsion and addictive nature that is driving her actions. These excited feelings override common sense and practicalities, and leave a trail of devastation behind her.
The pace is steady and as events evolve stunning acting shines from the husband who plays the deceived so well with such anger, bitterness and rage. He is totally believable in his actions, and I think the film works purely on its ability to present the facts exactly as they are in all their disturbing and destructive rawness. It is the tale of the three, husband, lover and wife. There are good performances too by the teenagers who play minor roles - not too much emphasis is put on their loss and life altering changes as mum abandons the kitchen sink for pastures new.
I think what really struck me about the film was the lover Ivan, who to me was just not that special either as an actor or as the character. Why she would want to be with him really intrigued me, because despite having nothing to offer in the way of finances he wasn't anything special either. For me this was the slight let down of the film in that he was a less than credible figure, and it does take a lot of imagination to understand why she would have fallen for him. Usually there would have been something else - maybe it's my taste in men that is at fault here! That being said though for me it diluted the reality of the film slightly, as to fall for someone they need character and or looks, and I struggled to find it in Ivan! He lacked sparkle - I don't think it was necessarily poor acting but rather a portrayal of a character that really was nothing that special. I think the film is trying to say this is what can happen to a woman who is immersed in domesticity for too long, trapped in the walls of responsibility and sees an escape route back to her youth sitting on a plate in front of her. The actions are instinctive and headstrong - never once does she look back to what lies behind her. It happened to be Ivan but it could have been anyone who came into her life at that precise moment.
The extras on this DVD for me were the icing on the cake. Interviews with Kristin and the director Catherine Corsini are both insightful. They both explore the core aspects of the film and what they were trying to portray. The emphasis is really on how a middle age women suddenly finds herself in this predicament and risks losing everything in the pursuit of passionate love and desire. I believe this film is a true representation of this and is expertly directed.
There is also a trailer on the DVD which was for the release of the film in UK cinemas.
I don't think this film will appeal to everyone- certainly a younger audience may not appreciate the subject matter. If you are a female between 40 and 65 then this may well entertain, and certainly women of this age may appreciate seeing a film where for once the woman leaves for a younger man. Certainly due to the intimate nature of some of the scenes I wouldn't recommend sitting round as a family to watch this either.
This film portrays the passion in life, raw, honest and powerful, and shows what it can do to a cosy settled lifestyle as it cuts through wealth and stability as quick as a guillotine cuts through paper. Would I watch it again - most definitely as it speaks loudly in my language. There is more to life than wealth and possessions, and that whilst life on orange boxes is tough, the love behind it will often challenge even the most rock steady relationships in affluence if they are stale and predictable.
This review is also posted on Ciao under my user name Violet1278.