Sunday, October 3, 2010

Movie with Abe: Leaving

Directed by Catherine Corsini
Released October 1, 2010

Any film that uses nothing more than an action verb as its title has to be about people in transition. In this case, it’s the story of a woman whose life is rather uneventful. She is happily married to a successful doctor and has two kids. Yet there’s something about spending her days doing little else but cooking for her family that has left her feeling unfulfilled, and she desires to start up practicing physiotherapy again. An initially insignificant construction project to create her new office quickly leads to a wild romance that manages to reinvigorate Suzanne’s life in a way that she never thought possible.

“Leaving” is a film primarily about a love affair that strikes its participants and begins to occur almost without their knowledge or consent. Ivan is the handyman hired to build Suzanne’s workspace, and the two immediately take a liking to each other. Suzanne’s husband, Samuel, seems so oblivious both to Suzanne’s unhappiness and to her attraction to the burly Ivan that it seems to partially excuse Suzanne’s extramarital behavior. Once Samuel does discover their indiscretion, he responds with a vengeful, controlling attitude, and by that point, Suzanne and Ivan may have amassed widespread audience support. Samuel is hardly a bad person, yet he just doesn’t seem capable of fulfilling or understanding Suzanne’s emotional needs.

What’s especially commendable about “Leaving” is that it devotes enormous attention to its three primary characters, filling in background for both of Suzanne’s partners so that viewers aren’t necessarily drawn to the man of mystery or to the rich husband. Enhancing the well-developed script are magnetic performances from its three lead players: Kristin Scott Thomas, Sergi Lopez, and Yvan Attal. British-born Thomas evokes passion and sympathy much like she did in 2008’s French film “I’ve Loved You So Long.” Spanish native Lopez, who played the brutal Vidal in “Pan’s Labyrinth,” ensures that Ivan is three-dimensional and not just an empty distraction for Suzanne. And Attal gives perhaps the most intriguing performance, making Samuel into a wronged man who reacts so viciously to his wife’s affair that it’s hard to decide whether or not he deserves compassion. The film is beautifully shot, and the cinematography in the outdoor and intimate scenes helps to make “Leaving” a powerful, beautiful experience. While it’s not necessarily an optimistic film, it’s a compelling, inspiring tale of two people yearning for happiness in a situation where it’s just barely beyond the realm of possibility.


No comments: