Directed and written by Catherine Corsini, Leaving is much like I Am Love. A strong central female giving a great emotional performance in a well made drama concerning a well-to-do-family and the fallout that ensues when she falls in love with a working-class type.
Suzanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) is a happily married mother of two in a successful household who falls in love with the handyman (Sergi Lopez) who is building her an office. She has everything she could possibly want but the closer she is with him, the closer she edges to falling in love.
Kristin Scott Thomas was nominated a second year running for a César (the French equivalent of an Oscar) for her role in this and it’s easy to see why as she gives herself physically and emotionally to the role. She has a gamine beauty that can convey the realisation that she is in love (or maybe just lust) to perfection: watching it on screen was brilliant as the emotions of fear then pleasure ripple across her face.
Likewise, Sergi Lopez, previously a slimy hotel manager and psychotic Spanish civil war officer, is able to exude a rough charm. Yvan Attal as Suzanne’s devoted husband Samuel initially garnered the most sympathy from me changing from believably loving to pathetic and possessive but as he became more desperate and jealous and his end-game emerged I lost sympathy for him and became quite sympathetic for Lopez’ character as he is buffeted between husband and wife.
Indeed, I found it increasingly hard to feel sympathetic toward Suzanne during her travails because I had the suspicion that instead of her feeling love it was narcissism and lust as she has found a new person to impress and outlet for her desires. Only at the end did she realise that she was deluding herself, thus the emotion.
Perhaps making the audience think about who they are allied to is the intention but I was ultimately alienated from all of the characters by the end.
I suspect my poor male brain was overwhelmed by the emotions. Give me Faye Wong constantly playing California Dreaming.
That said, love makes a person lose their head and I felt moved by the energy and even mania that exuded from Thomas’s character which was probably the point.