So the transition from Hollywood dame, to evil British dame to dark French character is complete for Scott Thomas based on this and the wonderful I’ve Loved You So Long from two years ago. Here she plays Suzanne a woman in an already loveless marriage who takes a personal interest to the family handyman Ivan (Sergi Lopez) which then evolves into a passionate affair, before turning into a full-blown romance with Suzanne prepared to leave her husband and children. Samuel (Yvan Attel) is a doctor and a high profile pillar of the community. Unwilling to just let his wife and Ivan get away scot free he uses his connections to make life as tricky as possible for them.
At times Leaving plays very much like fast paced erotic thriller, with a slate soap opera aspect thrown in. What balances this out is that it is actually a film commenting on the power one surrenders in a marriage, as well as giving an uneasy sense of power, greed and procession. The people who really suffer here are the couple’s teenage son and daughter who are the most sympathetic people in the film.
The spot on performances are enough to engage your heart when maybe your head is saying enough is enough. Scott Thomas is truly compelling, once again showing great stillness in a performance unafraid to show you the dark and unforgiving side to such a human character whose biggest crime might actually be naivety. Lopez reinvents himself his Pan’s Labyrinth role here striking a vulnerable note. And Attel is very convincing also injecting Samuel with an icy coldness, and strong sense of his own importance.
On the flip side as I hinted there are plot developments just too comical and unbelievable not to put a dent in my enjoyment of the film. The plot does feel a little old also, with a little too much reliance on dramatic leaps of credibility rather than slow burning character detail and human logic. And not being able to care about any of the major players also sat unwell with me, not to say I was not engaged or to a lesser extent interested I just didn’t give enough of a damn. Although there is still plenty here to make it an engrossing and thought provoking watch.
Director: Catherine Corsini
Cast: Kristen Scott Thomas, Sergi Lopez and Yvan Attel
Runtime: 86 Min