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Leaving

A movie directed by Catherine Corsini

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When Infidelity Becomes An Inner Struggle For Individuality....

  • Feb 28, 2011
Rating:
+4
Foreign films have always held a certain magic when it came to creating films that may portray an overused premise. In this case, the themes of infidelity have been used so many times, as to how a woman would fall into this trap, why a woman falls into the arms of another man and what happens after a husband finds out about the betrayal. The French film “Leaving” (a.k.a. “Partir”, 2009) is one such film that brings forth this very overused premise. The direction by Catherine Corsini and the script that Corsini co-wrote with Gaelle Mace approaches its premise differently. Instead of falling into the trappings of such films as “Unfaithful”, “The Good Girl” and “Walk On The Moon” it creates a story that represents something else. Rather than going forth with a husband and wife struggle and the passion between a confused wife and her lover, it brings something new to the table. The pain, the hardships and the strength of a woman who wants to be free.

Suzanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) is a well to do woman who has a financially supportive husband, two children and has a nice house in the south of France. Her lifestyle is quite easy and she decides to return to her work as a physiotherapist and an office is being built for her by her spouse (Yvan Attal) in their own backyard. They hire a contractor whose workers includes a Spanish man named Ivan (Sergi Lopez, Pan’s Labyrinth) and the attraction was just there the minute Suzanne lays eyes on him. The two begin a torrid affair that comes so fast and very unexpected. Cannot contain her attraction and Suzanne declares her love for Ivan to her husband. She intends to give up everything she had ever had for Ivan as she intends to embrace this passionate fire that rages in her. But things usually get ugly after such an affair…

                              Kristin Scott Thomas as Suzanne in "Leaving."

                             Kristin Scott Thomas as Suzanne and Sergi Lopez as Ivan in "Leaving."

The film starts off with a lot of cliché, as the film sets the groundwork for our two lovers. It starts off innocently enough, a man hanging around with a woman can raise a little attraction here and there. It all depends on they act on it or if they open themselves to opportunities. Suzanne has a great lifestyle and it would be easy to say that she is a fool for entertaining the idea of being with Ivan. However, once you read between the lines, you see Samuel so busy with his work and sex with him has no flame. Suzanne also exhibits the qualities of a woman who liked being ‘rescued’ as her past meeting with her husband enforces this idea. The direction also makes subtle and yet powerful touches to display Suzanne’s guilt as she freaks out when her children complain about dinner being “chicken” again. Suzanne is a good woman, she did stray and tried to make up for it. But there was just something burning inside that cannot be denied; some may say lust and that she has gotten used to Ivan’s touch, she cannot bring herself to have sex with anyone else. Suzanne is not a promiscuous woman which makes her actions quite intriguing the more you get into the film.

                         Yvan Attal as Samuel and Kristin Scott Thomas as Suzanne in "Leaving."

                         Kristin Scott Thomas as Suzanne in "Leaving."

Kristin Scott Thomas is the right actress for the job. She isn’t that glamorous and she is well into her late 40’s during the filming of this movie. She does have that quality that is very sensual, despite her simple appearance and mannerisms, it was definitely believable that Ivan would be attracted to her. Kristin Scott Thomas embodied that “older women can be hotter” (no body doubles, she looked great naked for a woman her age) thing that I had no issues buying into; her sex scenes were very intense and hot, I was impressed with the degree of believability she brought into the sex scenes. The second half of the film is all Thomas’ show as she commands each scene with her convincing performance. The film becomes a struggle for individuality as Suzanne becomes a woman fighting for her right to leave and to be with the man she loves. Bitter and angry, Samuel (played nicely by Attal) does whatever he can to make things hard for Suzanne or so Suzanne believes (I think it was more Ivan‘s status as an ex-con in the beginning). For some reason, despite the difficult life, Suzanne appears happy even though her daughter hates her decisions while her son proved more understanding. For Samuel, it was partly a matter of pride and saving face; I understand his feelings but sometimes one just needs to let go and let Suzanne realize her mistake (if she ever). This becomes a battle of wills for Suzanne to stay with Ivan. Being an ex-con, he isn’t given many opportunities; so the two has to make do with what they have. Suzanne out of desperation humiliates herself to a certain degree and makes several mistakes, that leads to the tragic events in the film.

Sergi Lopez has that personality that I find believable. He looks simple and yet, I can believe that he can attract the eye of a woman; not because of looks but through his interactions. Yvan Attal makes for a great supporting actor as he seems to be the husband filled with rage, he wants his wife back, and yet, one would wonder why? It was also curious that Samuel was more interested in making love to Suzanne after she had tried to leave him. Samuel embodies the man betrayed and would do anything to make his pain go away. It was easy to sympathize with Samuel, and yet, the more you got into the movie, the more you can understand that this former husband and wife definitely had their problems. Ivan just became the final nudge for their break up.

    

   

I suppose I can say that I enjoyed the way Suzanne was portrayed as the adulterer. She wasn’t the type that seemed easy and you know she had underlying layers to her personality that led to her being taken into an affair. It became more a struggle for identity rather than an affair driven by lust and mistaken love. So, did Suzanne truly love Ivan? Did she deserve the things that she had gone through or were they simply consequences of her own actions? The answer lies within the eye of the viewer. The film doesn’t point any fingers, albeit it does make Suzanne a lot more compelling than Samuel or Ivan. I would say that sometimes, wives (and husbands too, for that matter)make stupid decisions, and Suzanne was gutsy enough to follow through with this decision, and I can respect that. A situation should be allowed to play out, after all, sometimes a new beginning can be healthy for everyone.

“Leaving” serves as a cautionary tale for those who are considering having an affair. Are you sure you have everything planned out? It also serves as a tale of individuality. A man and a woman has to maintain a manner of individualism, despite a marriage. Remember the old saying “married, but not dead”? "Leaving" is a film about human reactions, desires and inner struggle. It has the right blend of drama, eroticism and tragedy that proved very compelling, engaging and has surpassed my expectations on films with similar themes.

Highly Recommended! [4 Out of 5 Stars]

                     Poster art for "Leaving"

When Infidelity Becomes An Inner Struggle For Individuality.... When Infidelity Becomes An Inner Struggle For Individuality....

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March 20, 2011
Looks interesting. I probably won't check this one out, though. I'm staying away from some of the more serious pieces these days. Too much drama in my life to experience it in films right now.
March 20, 2011
I know what you mean, these days I see a lot of comedies to forget (did you notice?)
March 21, 2011
Yup. *hugs*
 
March 10, 2011
Sounds really good WP
 
March 01, 2011
This sounds like an interesting film. Not sure that it's quite what I'm in the mood for at the moment, but it looks excellent. Nice job, Woo man.
March 02, 2011
Yeah, it was an interesting film and I was surprised as to how I really liked it. It had the same set ups as those with "Unfaithful" and "The Good Girl" is some ways, but the way it developed its story was so different and more compelling than any I've seen about infidelity. It became almost like a struggle to have freedom and how a simple affair would lead to such a tragedy. Thomas was so convincing in her role, I liked her in this. Oh, Sharrie, responded to your comment...
March 11, 2011
Sharrie responded again....
 
March 01, 2011
Btw, when a relationship leads to infidelity, it is actually much harder for a woman to forgive than a man simply because women experienced it differently themselves (aka cannot separate love & sex; and i am not referring to "loose" women). But, as it happens in society, it is often required for women to forgive husbands or lovers because they tend to stray (partly because of psychological built-up as well). That as far as I've read, is much tougher for the women to get past their husband's affairs. But if they managed to get past it, then the relationship is solid insofar the men does not betray that trust. Yes, it's actually more a betrayal of trust that we are talking about. So, subject to individual's makeup, a person's acceptance of that trust level will decide if one is able to get over his/her partner's affair, I think.
March 01, 2011
wow! I am impressed! Hey, how much do you charge per session? ;P
March 01, 2011
I'll let you know after I do a market research, LOL... it certainly is a high demand product ;p
March 01, 2011
you will make a fortune because of my complex personality LOL!!
March 01, 2011
Sharrie, I'm going to have to disagree with you there. I don't think that a generalization can be made as to a woman being more inclined to see love and sex as mutually exclusive nor do I think that infidelity can be said to weigh more heavily on one gender or another. While certain cultures, because of gender bias and certain sociopolitical stigmas may treat women and men differently in those instances of infidelity, I think that the emotional response would be primarily the same though the expression may differ. It would also depend on the individual's own perspectives regarding intimate relationships. I also think that women often overlook men's innate sexual insecurities since men are less vocally expressive about their own vulnerabilities and anxieties than women, but again this is more due to sociological stigmas regarding what it means to be masculine.
March 02, 2011
I know that is generalization. Still, in terms of norm (as in percentages) as well as how much faster it is for men to bounce back into relationships, well, I do not think I'm too far off. There are always exceptions in both genders naturally. As for men's innate sexual insecurity, may be you can elaborate on that. That's the first time I heard someone talk about it! 
March 02, 2011
In some ways, I think men act like they bounce more easily but I've known a lot more men who took a long time getting over their spouse's infidelity. I tend to agree with Orlok and then again, I know in certain countries, you are indeed correct.
March 02, 2011
Well, I can think of a number of examples that I've observed in people time and time again.

One that springs to mind is that if a man is insecure because of repressed homosexuality or bisexuality, they tend to display more sexually aggressive behavior in an attempt to seem masculine or powerful. This same person might take on numerous partners or boast of their activities in the hopes of appearing virile and confident.

Another example would be the man who can't fulfill the sexual needs of his wife or in some way feels emasculated within his domestic environment. He might choose to engage in an extramarital affair in order to feel that he has more control over his existence than he actually does.

All of these things spring from a desire to appear strong to the outside world and to feel powerful or in control, but they're usually nothing more than the symptoms of a person with sexual insecurities and inability to express them through mutual communication. A good indication of this is to see how men and women respond, at least outwardly, to being cheated upon.

In my experience, most of my friends who have been cheated on either had a rebound boyfriend that they fell back on, went into a state of depression for a couple of weeks, or became very angry and perhaps retaliated in some way (one friend I had damaged her unfaithful boyfriend's car). However, for men, the responses are different and usually result in extreme anger and denial of the infidelity, again a rebound relationship, or severe sulking and moodiness.

The big difference is that women who have been cheated on have a sort of communal relationship with other women who they can talk to and vent their feelings and receive moral support, whereas most men feel that they can't talk about it with their male friends because they worry about being perceived as weak or inadequate. Neither women nor men are genetically predisposed to behave in either way, but are conditioned by societal attitudes and behaviors which have developed over many centuries.

Note how when men have multiple sexual partners they are seen as a "stud" while if women have multiple sexual partners they are often derogatorily referred to as a "slut" or a "whore". These double standards regarding promiscuous activity often favor men though on the other hand when men are the ones being cheated on they are at more of a social disadvantage because socially men are seen as being the aggressor and not the victim. The emotional affect of being cheated on for men is probably not dissimilar to women and result in the same emotional responses as being sexually victimized: distrust, guilt, mood swings, insecurity, and often either sexual repression or excessive sexual behavior. While being sexually abused or exploited is a more direct assault on a person emotionally, and especially physically it's far more traumatic, it still renders the same emotional response though to a lesser extent.
March 03, 2011
Orlok took the words out of my mouth ;)
March 11, 2011
Sorry for the late reply, Sean! I was out of town and out of touch with the computer ;-) I see what you mean insofar as emotional involvement is affecting behaviors. What I had meant though is that when men are unfaithful, they do not see it as that as they simply see the "straying" as a sexual encounter and the basis is not emotional involvement (or at least that's what men been saying a great many times). Hence, they do not plan on leaving either. For women though, many a time when sexual involvement is reached (although i can't say for everyone, naturally), emotional involvement is implicated. In that sense, when women choose to leave, that betrayal is complete.

The other perspective is that men see relationships as only 10% or slightly more of their lives while women see it as 80-100%. Hence, when a woman gets hit, it's total "destruction". When it happens to a man, life goes on. His career usually comes first.
March 11, 2011
Sharrie, did you read Sean's fantastic essay under your "Inspirations" COL?
 
March 01, 2011
Routine leads to boredom and for a woman who has everything in life, when someone or something sparks that passion which makes her feel alive, then she will definitely go for it. As for the husband, well, same theory... men are interested in something that other men are interested in. Competition leads to a sense of desirability, what more it was his "property" to begin with. The husband senses a threat and hence he's more interested in her. A man may feel things got out of control rather than jealousy. He's just doing what his instinct tells him to. As for your claim about having "planned" an affair; if an affair is planned, then it's not so much an affair, is it? I mean affairs are normally based on that spontaneity rather than plans when they first begin. As for the lady in question, as a woman normally would, she couldn't separate love and sex. If she could, then there won't be any trouble for all parties concerned. Passion never lasts for one thing, so eventually she'd have gotten over her lover. Plus, they are too different to make a relationship work, considering what she's used to in life. A woman always leave a relationship (esp. the comfortable one that she's in) whenever she feels she's no longer cherished and loved! That's what it is... and she thought she found it in the lover, which I doubt.
March 01, 2011
wow! that is one in-depth and exciting comment! I agree with your analysis on the man and woman thing. I mean, that was just awesome! (wish I could've borrowed those lines). I know, it seems like affairs are based on mostly things that somehow makes one feel alive; it may not be planned but it seems like those things always happen without long term possibilities. I really liked your comments on the woman not being able to separate love and sex; that passion never lasts. I actually feel that she may have not have stooped to such lengths in the affair if the husband simply allowed her to work it off and for things to slowly play out. Nice commentary, Sharrie, I have to say that you got the thoughts on the movie even before you saw it! I am impressed.
March 01, 2011
Hehe... I'm a Psychology major, u know. Plus, I've talked to enough people who have had relationship problems. It's not that difficult to know how the rationale plays out ;-) My friend once suggested I set up a site named as "LOVE IS BLIND" as I've had so many online people asking me for "consultations" about their love problems!!!
March 01, 2011
Psychology major eh? that explains why you are wise. I think you should start one called "lovers are blind" LOL!!
March 01, 2011
Love is just a concept the last & this generation been sold to, LOL... it doesn't last and it's a lot of work! Of course if you term it work, people will feel differently. But just the word "LOVE", it's enough for men to wage a war against another!!! I think "lovers are fools" is an apt description! ;-)
March 01, 2011
I agree...and everybody plays the fool. LOL! One time I asked a friend of mine if he loved his GF, he said: "dude, don't ask me that..." so I said: "I wanted to know so I will understand why you're acting too much of a fool..." LOL! It's ok (understandable) to act the fool when one is in love, but one needs to remember that they cannot lose their sense of individuality just because they're in love. ;)
March 01, 2011
ok, how did this conversation come about? LOL!
March 01, 2011
Actually, I think people who are able to fool themselves for an entire life are more likely to succeed in love! :p
March 01, 2011
...and that explains why I am divorced. LOL!
 
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About this movie

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  • Opened October 1, 2010 (Limited 10/1) | Runtime:1 hr. 25 min.
  • NR
  • With her idle bourgeois lifestyle getting her down, well-to-do mother Suzanne goes back to work as a physiotherapist in the south of France. Her husband agrees to fix up a consulting room in their backyard but when Suzanne and the man hired to do the building work meet, their mutual attraction is sudden and violent. Suzanne must then decide whether to give up everything and live this all engulfing passion to the fullest.
    Note: This film is presented in French with English subtitles.
  • Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Sergi López, Yvan Attal, Bernard Blancan, Aladin Reibel, Alexandre Vidal, Daisy Broom
  • Director: Catherine Corsini
  • Genres: Marriage DramaDramaThriller
  • Poster art for "Leaving"
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    Details

    Director: Catherine Corsini
    Genre: Drama, Romance
    Release Date: 12 August 2009 (Belgium)
    Runtime: 85 min
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