Suzanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) is a 40-ish doctor's wife and mother of two teenagers living in the South of France. Bored with her life she decides to go back to work as a physiotherapist, a job she trained for but quit in order to bring up her children. Her husband (Yvan Attal) agrees to fix up a consulting room for her in their backyard. The man in charge of the building work is Ivan (Sergi Lopez), an odd job man and ex- prisoner. After an accident which puts him in hospital, Ivan is nursed by Suzanne who feels responsible for the event, and they begin an affair/ Soon, Suzanne decides to give up everything and live this all-engulfing passion to the full.
Review by Louise Keller:
With stars of the echelon of Kristin Scott Thomas and Sergi Lopez, it is terribly disappointing to find that the vehicle that brings them together is not only unworthy, but nonsensical in plot terms. In short, the action of is out of character and not unbelievable. The blame can be laid directly at the feet of writer director Catherine Corsini who together with screenwriter GaŽlle Macť, has created a scenario that does not wash on any level.
After an intriguing opening scene, we are taken back 6 months in time when doctor's wife Suzanne (Scott Thomas) meets builder / jack-of-all-trades Ivan (Lopez) when she is clearing out a shed. He repairs the junk she is about to throw away and it is clear that there is an attraction between them. The lust is credible. But when Suzanne tells her possessive husband she has been unfaithful, that's when everything goes wrong - for Suzanne and also for us. Unfortunately, it Suzanne's behaviour that does not ring true. Instead of being drawn into a reality in which the emotional state of the main character changes, we are faced with a situation that becomes more and more ludicrous.
Scott Thomas and Lopez are as good as always but I couldn't help but wish they were in another film. We are constantly drawn out of the film's reality by problematic plot points and inappropriate behaviour. For example, when the ATM machine chews up Suzanne's credit card at the petrol station, would she really approach motorists filling up, trying to sell her Cartier watch? The relationship between Suzanne and divorced, former jail inmate Ivan is frankly unbelievable; lust is one thing but suddenly being madly in love with someone you have just met, prompting irrational behaviour is quite another. Even at 85 minutes, Leaving sadly feels horribly overlong.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The themes explored in Leaving are fairly thin; a middle class doctor's wife finds herself in teenage love with a working class bloke with a prison record and tosses her life away to be with him. The story itself has potential, especially with such a gifted cast, but the screenplay and the direction make mince meat of it. Incomplete and unsatisfying, the film drags through its paces as Suzanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) abandons her plans for a small physio practice as the fulfilment she is looking for, in favour of a hopeless affair with Ivan (Sergi Lopez) a divorced dad whose little girl lives in Spain, a three hour drive away.
There is little cohesion in the storytelling and too little dramatic tension, despite the potential of the subject matter. Yvan Attal is given a thankless task as a boorish husband who can't accept that his wife no longer loves him. Scenes between the two are almost invariably flat (even when they clash) and contrived.
It seems as if co-writer and director Catherine Corsini was trying hard to make a point or two, but about what? Is it a condemnation of the shallow bourgeois wife who discovers free love before her teenage kids do? Is it about her discovery of a real man in the working class? Is it about the reckless passion of love that sacrifices all for a new romance? Can we believe Suzanne and her husband would behave the way they do?
The best thing is the film is the performance in a tiny role by Alexandre Vidal as her son David, the most supportive and genuine character in the film. Even the acclaimed and talented Kristin Scott Thomas and the equally talented Sergi Lopes find themselves struggling with a screenplay that has confusing jumps and unresolved issues crowding our experience, and a feeble, discordant ending that leaves us wanting something more credible.
Published first in the Sun-Herald
Email this article
CAST: Kristin Scott Thomas, Sergi Lopez, Yvan Attal, Bernard Blancan, Aladin Reibel, Alexandre Vidal, Daisy Broom, Berta Esquirol
PRODUCER: Michel Seydoux, Fabienne Vonier
DIRECTOR: Catherine Corsini
SCRIPT: Catherine Corsini, Gaelle Mace
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Agnes Godard
EDITOR: Simon Jacquet
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Laurent Ott
RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 22, 2010