Review: Leaving (Partir)

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The Pitch: Parting isn’t such sweet sorrow…

The Review: Kristin Scott Thomas has become the embodiment of refinement in the eyes of many English people, no doubt thanks to roles in movies such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, The English Patient and Gosford Park. However, by her own admission she considers herself more French than English, holding dual nationality and having lived in France since the age of 19. She’s also managed to carve out an equally impressive career in French movies, and the latest to wash up on these shores is on the surface a simple tale of a woman trapped in a loveless marriage and looking for excitement.

It runs the risk of cliché, but taking up with the hired help in this situation is entirely logical. Kristin’s English background is also mirrored in that of her character, but in this case it helps to reinforce the status of her character Suzanne’s slight isolation and her differentiation from her family. Her lover, Ivan (played by Sergi Lopez, best known for Pan’s Labyrinth to English audiences) also draws on his real life Catalan background and the two outsiders are drawn together believably by circumstance and attraction.

Not that you would think it to look at her, but Kristin turned 50 this year; this enables her to bring her wealth of life experience to her characterisation of Suzanne, but she has no fear in the role, either physically or emotionally. Raw emotions are on display from all the characters, and as events conspire to make life more difficult for the lovers, all of the main characters get a chance to show some range.

Director and co-writer Catherine Corsini allows her characters to dominate the screen, but never resorts to flashy touches. As such, the story progresses in a very linear manner, and the narrative choice to start with a brief scene and then flash back to tell the body of the story tries to add ambiguity but by the climax has only served to signpost where things are headed. Nevertheless, for those looking for a little more passion in their domestic dramas, they could do worse than stop off at this French outpost.

Why see it at the cinema: The French and Spanish scenery gets shown off to best effect on the big screen, but it also allows the larger emotions to have room to breathe.

The Score: 7/10

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