Leaving - DVD Review

'the consistency of the galactically stupid decisions each character makes is astounding'

Kristin Scott Thomas' current artistic predilection appears to be to largely shun both Hollywood and the British film industry in favour of starring in fairly small, low budget, French films. Occasionally, this has produced stunning, and surprisingly mainstream friendly, results. I've Loved You So Long, released in the UK in 2008, was nominated for a couple of Golden Globes and proved to be a very successful character study with a weighty emotional punch.

Scott Thomas' latest French foray (although there are three films which have finished filming but have not yet reached these shores) is Leaving. Directed by Catherine Corsini, Leaving proves to be another character study of a woman on the verge of breaking, this time due to the complications which arise when she embarks upon an affair with Spanish manual labourer Ivan (Sergi López).

Where I've Loved You So Long had a beautifully melancholic tone which fitted the film perfectly, Leaving struggles to establish an aura which has the same respect for the themes it wants to explore. Suzanne (Scott Thomas) and Ivan's first few meetings are weighed down with near pornographic innuendo and lascivious flirting of the 'I've come to fix your boiler' variety. Their affair's commencement is muddy but not without charm, Corsini successfully capturing the nervous joy that comes early in a relationship, albeit it that this one is dirtied by its very inception.

Where the film really falls down though is in the consistency of the galactically stupid decisions each character makes. Perhaps the intention was to show how each one of us is prone to forget about the harsh realities and consequences of the real world every once in a while, especially when we are passionately in love. The result instead is the creation of a complete disconnect between the film's realist leanings and its plot contrivances some of which - the ending in particular - beggar belief.

This coupled with the generally unlikable nature of each of the main players - with even Yvan Attal's slighted husband portrayed as a vicious, pompous, moron - leaves Leaving with little content to love and even less to identify with. Not a high point of Scott Thomas' 'French period'.

Look further...

'Leaving very quickly degenerates into a film about unpleasant people doing unpleasant things to each other' - Phil On Film

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