When a gunshot shatters the silence in the flash-forward opening scene of a film, impending doom always permeates the plot. In the new French drama, “Leaving,” director Catherine Corsini (“Replay”) proves love does not conquer all, but it can be all-consuming.
The ever-brilliant Kristin Scott Thomas plays Suzanne, a desperate housewife whose idyllic life is shattered by obsession. Planning to resume her career as a physiotherapist after having been married for 15 years, she’s sidetracked by falling in love with Ivan (Sergi Lopez of “Pan’s Labyrinth”) who’s building her new office. Rather than pursue a covert affair, she immediately confesses to her husband, Samuel (Yvan Attal of “Munich”), and moves in with the penniless ex-con contractor.
Her vindictive and powerful hubby cuts Suzanne off financially, forcing the lovers into abject poverty. At her lowest point, Suzanne is reduced to peddling an expensive scarf and watch at a gas station after her credit card has been rejected. When Ivan is caught fencing items taken from Suzanne’s former home (with her permission), Samuel blackmails her into coming back to him.
Scott Thomas’ character is totally unsympathetic due to rash and utterly foolish actions taken on her part. Suzanne’s madness seems unfounded, and yet it’s a guilty pleasure to watch this pitch-perfect performance.
I found it impossible not drawing parallels to her role and gifted work in “The English Patient” (for which she received an Oscar nomination). I wouldn’t be surprised if this splendid actress garners two nods this year for “Nowhere Boy” and “Leaving.”
As the film draws to a close, the intrigue is overwhelming. Does Ivan fire the shot, perhaps killing Samuel? Has Suzanne committed suicide? I guarantee that “Leaving” will have audiences exiting the theater shaking their heads.