out of Five
Running time: 85
With a terrific central performance from Kristin Scott Thomas, Leaving is a thoroughly gripping emotional drama that plays like a sun-drenched film noir.
What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by Catherine Corsini, Leaving is set in southern France and stars Kristin Scott Thomas as Suzanne, an upper-middle class wife and mother who begins a lusty affair with Spanish bit of rough Ivan (Sergi Lopez) after he breaks his ankle stopping her runaway car. However, when she tries to leave her arrogant husband Samuel (Yvan Attal) and their two teen children (Alexandre Vidal and Daisy Broom) things quickly turn nasty as Samuel cuts her off financially and uses his influence to prevent ex-con Ivan from finding work.
Kristin Scott Thomas is terrific as Suzanne, delivering an emotionally intense performance that keeps us on her side throughout, despite some increasingly wrong-headed actions on her part. Lopez is equally good and has powerful chemistry with Scott Thomas, while there's strong support from Yvan Attal as Samuel, whose vengeful, bitter reactions to the affair go some way towards fuelling our sympathy for Suzanne.
The script is excellent and the story plays like a sun-drenched film noir, with Suzanne as an impassioned femme fatale luring hapless ex-con Ivan into a doomed and destructive relationship. Indeed, the story essentially unfolds in noir-style flashback, beginning with an ominous flash-forward in which an unhappy Suzanne gets out of her marital bed and we hear a shot fired, so we know from the start that it's not going to end happily.
The film is beautifully shot, courtesy of Agnes Godard's gorgeous cinematography that makes the most of the stunning Languedoc landscapes. Similarly, Corsini employs a naturalistic, earthy style throughout, which works well, particularly during the sex scenes, which have a raw urgency that is extremely compelling.
Leaving is a gripping emotional drama that packs a powerful punch, thanks to a strong script, striking cinematography and a terrific central performance from Kristin Scott Thomas. It's also a treat to see Sergi Lopez on screen again. Highly recommended.