Today: April 12, 2024

Leaving

A modern-day Lady
Chatterley’s Lover, Catherine Corsini’s Leaving (Patir) stars the mesmerizing
Kirstin Scott Thomas in the French love triangle tale, out now on DVD.

Bored-housewife and builder
fantasies usually comes with a seductive wannabe jezebel and a fit bloke in tow. Whilst the
beautiful Kirstin Scott Thomas
(Nowhere Boy, Largo Winch) playing married woman Suzanne Vidal, she checks all
the stereotypical boxes as a dormant lust-filled filly; Sergi Lopez (The Boat Race) as Ivan the Spaniard labourer, is
hardly what dreams are made of
. With his portly belly, wiry hairy chest and
average looks, you would hardly expect her to want him to lay anything other
than the patio. Maybe it was a bit of rough she was looking for to null the
boredom of a seemingly perfect, well-to-do life. Well, bingo! An illegal
immigrant, and ex-con to boot, Ivan is the man is the man for the job.

So when Suzanne decides to
abandon her bourgeois life in favour of the penniless Mr Fix-it, one can assume
it’s all about the personality, right? If only the script allowed us to do so.
The underdeveloped characterization of the film’s lead and a plot that misses
several beats, we are never quite sure why she abandons a life of luxury to
become the pauper’s gir
l.

Her’s is not a bad lot. She
lives in a luxurious house with Samuel (Attal), with her doctor husband of 20
years and their children. He happily caters to her whim to return to work as a
physiotherapist and employs Ivan to build her a 30,000 Euro office. She appears
to be more grateful when the dusty builder fixes a broken lamp that she is
about to discard. When, one day, Ivan breaks his ankle attempting to stop her
runaway car that will prevent him from a rare visit to his estranged young
daughter who lives with her mother, a guilt-ridden Suzanne offers to drive him
there.

Once there, a cozy evening at
a restaurant and his mumbled native Spanish folk song stirs passions between
them that gets her all-too-quickly into the sack.
This is where the plot starts
leaping forward. Only one more secret tryst later and Suzanne is confessing her
love for the builder to her husband. Samuel storms out of the house, has a bit
of a sulk and returns. They quickly resume married life. The cuckolded husband
showers her with gifts but the adulterous minx quietly lusts after Ivan and
soon resumes play. And, with not-too-much subtly.

“You’re nothing more than a
bitch on heat,”
Samuel spits at her as she blatantly accepts a call from her
no-so-secret lover in the middle of dinner with her in-laws and family. Well, he
has a point. And she proves so by scaling down the walls of the house to spend
the night with her alpha male after her husband has locked her in their
bedroom, showing, for the first time, what a control-freak he is.

Ok, so Samuel is a bit OTT in
his actions, and when he wallops her with a backhand slap as she eventually
tries to leave the family home to set up a life with Ivan, you cannot but help
to want to give out a cheer (not
that FilmJuice is advocating wife-beating). It’s hard to sympathise with
Suzanne. Without any thoughts of their children that she is leaving behind (let
alone the life of luxury), there’s no clear reason why she has decided to
divorce her husband. That is, until you see him grunting over her during their
(or at least his) passionless lovemaking
which suggests that this is what she
needs. But that is no real basis for lying, cheating and all-round selfish
behaviour.

There is no doubt that Scott
Thomas is a fine actress but we are never convinced by her onscreen character’s
actions. Yvan Attal excels as the bitter husband hellbent on getting his
estranged wife back home. Devastated, he uses all his contacts to make it
impossible for the two lovers to work. Written by director Catherine Corsini (Les ambitieux, The Very Merry Widows) and
Gaelle Mace, they mercilessly pour
one problem on after another, plunging the couple into lower depths. Suzanne
even resorts to picking fruit and hawking her Cartier watch as a petrol
station, all in the name of love
. Unfortunately, the audience is generally two
steps ahead of the plot.

That said, with its sound
direction, great cinematography and fine performances, Leaving is a very
watchable film. One might also argue that Corsini did well to stay away from
the reasons behind Suzanne’s behaviour in acting illogically for love. Instead,
Corsini has opted for the audience to be swept up in the emotions of the lovers,
perhaps reflecting what might happen in real life.

The recession has seen a
growing trend for women to go for men who are good with their hands in favour
of bonus-saturated bankers and the like. Leaving will certainly feed such
appetites.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website: thekolsocial.com

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