Leaving [Partir] Movie Review
In southern France, Suzanne (Scott Thomas) is a wife and mother who, bored with her bourgeois life, decides to go back to work. But when beefy builder Ivan (Lopez) arrives to work on her home office, she starts flirting with him. This eventually turns into a lusty affair, and she decides to leave her husband Samuel (Attal) and teen children (Vidal and Broom). But exchanging financial stability for passion isn't easy; when money runs short Samuel tries to exploit her need for security. And things get very messy indeed.
The film's opening shot gives away its most shocking plot turn, which is a way of letting us know that this movie isn't about the storyline: it's about the people. And every character is complex and imperfect, making bad decisions and doing cruel things along the way. Director-cowriter Corsini plays with this aspect of the film, constantly challenging our own morality and perceptions.
And it's gorgeously shot by Agnes Godard, who almost subliminally gives us constant insight into the characters' motivations.
Of course, having an actress like Scott Thomas in the central role lifts this film into something unmissable. Even when the plot stretches credibility, her performance is utterly riveting. In another movie, Suzanne would be the villain of the piece, and yet we are always on her side, even when she does something horrible. Opposite her, Lopez and Attal are also excellent as men grappling with their own shortcomings.
Through it all, Corsini creates an intriguingly realistic atmosphere punctuated by moments of raw tension and wrenching dialog. And without ever romanticising marriage, she sharply shows how easy it is to take a misstep in a moment of weakness. As the film descends into desperation and humiliation, it begins to feel somewhat contrived. But the attitudes and issues it examines leave us thinking long after the lights come up.