From the moment Julia Roberts uttered the famous words "I want the fairytale" to Richard Gere all those years ago in 'Pretty Woman', it seemed to ignite a determination in women everywhere to never settle for anything less than the perfect man. But how far would you go for love? 'Leaving' transports us to the world of a woman who despite having everything she could ever wish for, still goes in search of better, thinking nothing of the tragic consequences.
This exquisite French tale tells of Suzanne (Scott Thomas), a married woman who is used to the luxurious things in life, safe in her picturesque home in the South of France. However, opulence can be mistaken for happiness and with the help of her ostentatious husband Samuel (Attal) she develops a deep and irreversible sense of gloom.
With the prospect of Suzanne embarking on a career as a physiotherapist, Samuel agrees to renovate a consulting room to support her aspirations. But when brooding ex-con Ivan (López) is hired to do the building work it isn't long before Suzanne strays from her lacklustre life and right into his arms.
Their mutual attraction from their first encounter leads to a sudden and deeply passionate affair with no thought as to the repercussions. In an effort to escape from her possessive husband, dejected Suzanne lets her childish feelings take over and she selfishly abandons her kids and husband. Little does she know that she is running in the direction of immeasurable heartache that will inevitably end in tragedy.
What makes 'Leaving' so breathtaking and raw is the emotionally charged acting of the three leads in the sordid love triangle. They effortlessly and realistically portray the selfishness, cowardliness, denial and hurt involved in an affair. Director Corsini makes sure that she explores the feelings of the characters, making them relatable and giving us a window into the lives of a family torn to shreds by the break-up of a marriage.
In such a typically slow and moving French film like this one, with hardly any dialogue and highly sexually charged sex scenes, the main character has to be someone who can command the audience and draw us into the mind of an adulteress. Scott Thomas gives us exactly this as Suzanne. You will either sympathise with her vulnerable character, or despise her wicked ways. I found myself getting more and more frustrated with her as she played out the role of the victim. Only an actress like Scott Thomas can create such a divide in how people perceive her on screen.
Samuel is definitely not the chauvinistic beast he is made out to be. You are supposed to feel some hatred for this aggressive man, but end up just feeling sorry for him instead, as the tragic tale unfolds. Suzanne's lover, the bohemian Ivan, doesn't seem like the type of man that would be able to seduce a woman, let alone woo her away from her husband. Although he does possess that rugged builder look, it feels quite unrealistic that she would run away with him in the long run.
Keeping with the traditions of French film, the ending is far from clichéd, although it would have been a bigger shock if the end scene wasn't shown at the beginning. That said, with robust performances and a deeply engaging storyline, 'Leaving' is one not to be missed.