Kristin Scott Thomas is as wonderfully taut and delicate as ever, revealing the warmth of her character's dormant personality inch by inch.
Leavingtells the story of Suzanne (Kristin Scott Thomas), a woman with a classic case of middle class ennui. After 20 years of existing in a kind of petrified state, Suzanne finds herself pulled under the placid surface of her life. There is nothing glaringly wrong with her particular set-up, but this latter day Emma Bovary’s dissatisfaction creeps up insidiously both on herself and the audience. Fractures in her life’s façade appear ever so subtly until a single moment brings everything into sharp relief.
It may seem a clichéd love affair – the lady of the manor and her brawny underling – but Suzanne’s relationship with builder Ivan (Sergi López) is less the fulfilment of an inevitable destiny than the catalyst for the total unravelling of her tightly-wound existence and all who sail in it.
Her extra-marital activities serve to reveal that her husband is not simply brusque, but a brutal infantiliser for whom adultery is forgivable, but desertion warrants retribution of the most calculating kind. How precarious her entire life becomes once her wedding ring comes off.
But Catherine Corsini’s film is not simply an indictment of one particularly chauvinist man, it is an indictment of a legal institution that empowers one person at the expense of the other, and indeed expense proves to be the one problem which is insurmountable. Corsini subtly equates the 20 years Suzanne spent with her husband to the two decades she spent with her bank. Ultimately she is left bankrupt by both.
Kristin Scott Thomas is as wonderfully taut and delicate as ever, revealing the warmth of Suzanne’s dormant personality inch by inch, her patrician face a Dietrichian combination of imperiousness and fragility. She and Corsini lift the film above the prosaic, both adept at flirting with the familiar whilst keeping cliché at bay.
For unlike Francesca in The Bridges of Madison County, Suzanne is not required to sacrifice her happiness in order to keep her family together, nor is she herself sacrificed a la Anna Karenina, punished at the film’s conclusion for her transgressions. Corsini’s clever misdirection in the opening scene sets up certain expectations which are ultimately subverted.
Scott Thomas looks set to add to her impeccable repertoire.
A Mills and Boon-esque plot is elevated by great acting and sensuous direction.
A cautionary tale which warns not against adultery, but iniquity.