Sweet sorrow

This is my review of Leaving [DVD] [2009].

This is a fresh and moving take on the familiar theme of an unfulfilled woman sacrificing family and properous home for her obsession with an unsuitable lover. We expect tragedy from the opening scene of Suzanne, played as subtly as ever by Kristin Scott Thomas, slipping out of bed and out of sight, only for us to hear a gunshot. The film is never tedious or depressing because of the well-paced plot and clearly drawn characters.

Our sympathies are divided. We feel for Suzanne as she seeks happiness away from her controlling husband, even though we know that she is being devious, selfish and on a practical note ill-advised in choosing an unsuitable lover in the shape of a "bit of rough" immigrant handyman with a prison record, with whom she has little in common apart from sex and whom she at times seems to manipulate for her own advantage, not considering the risks she is asking him to run on her behalf. Her actions, well-intentioned or criminal, tend to have unintended damaging consequences.

On the other hand, although he rides roughshod over his wife's needs, one feels for the husband who understandably in some ways tries to use his position of power and influence to cling on to the wife he wants to possess, and may genuinely love.

We also empathise with the lover, vulnerable despite his physical strength, and with Suzanne's teenage children, torn between their parents' distress, all put under pressure in the chain of events.

In short, this is an intriguing drama of complex emotions, well-acted, with an unpredictable twist at the end.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 Stars

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