Leaving (IFC Films, NR)

All three of the adults behave like selfish, greedy children and do not care who they hurt in the process.

Marriage can be a beautiful thing. When those involved are truly in love with each other, they can accomplish many wonderful things. Marriage can also be ugly. Leaving is a film about a woman in a sour marriage, and the falling out that happens when she beings an extramarital affair.
The movie focuses on the life of Suzanne (Kristin Scott Thomas). She lives a quiet existence with her family in southern France. Her husband, Samuel (Yvan Attal), is a doctor with political aspirations, while she stays at home to raise their children. Tired of twiddling her thumbs, she decides to return to her career as a physiotherapist. Her husband then hires ex-con Ivan (Sergi Lopez) under the table to renovate a room for her to practice her therapy.
Suzanne soon begins an impassioned and destructive love affair with Ivan. Finally she has found excitement in her relatively monotonous life. With very little remorse, she allows her family life to crumble. Her husband cuts her off financially, and her reentry into physiotherapy is not as successful as she hoped. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and she and Ivan must do what they can in order to survive.
Kristin Scott Thomas, whose performance earned her a nomination for Best Actress at the Cesar Awards, is absolutely terrific as a woman who is willing to give up her family and financial stability to be with a man with whom she is madly in love. She’s erratic, irrational and troubled. It is without a doubt one of her best roles, but unfortunately, her character is not very likable. Suzanne’s life with her husband may be bland and unfulfilling, but that doesn’t seem to provide enough of a reason for her to throw away her life, even her children, for an ex-con she has barely knows. Her actions leave the audience with little in the way of empathy toward her.
The script by director Catherine Corsini and Gaelle Mace is, at first, fresher and darker than the similar stories we’ve seen before. However, as the story progresses, the actions of the characters become more and more unbelievable. Suzanne and Samuel make hardly any attempt to reconcile, while Ivan has no qualms about being “the other man.” All three of the adults behave like selfish, greedy children and do not care who they hurt in the process.

As Leaving ends, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth of the audience. It tries very hard to be different and bold, and to make some sort of statement—whatever that may be. Instead it plays out like slightly above-average fare from the Lifetime Move Channel. It’s hammy and unrealistic, and the characters have no redeeming qualities. Thomas’ excellent performance cannot save this film from all its shortcomings. | Justin Tucker

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