I'm a great film buff with diverse tastes and I often wonder which film I'd want with me if I were stranded on that mythical desert island. Time and again though I come up with the same answer: Leon.
I can't fault this film. Luc Besson is a true artist (I've thoroughly enjoyed his work on every occasion) and this is surely his finest achievement. The casting is truly inspired. I cannot imagine another actor bettering Jean Reno's portrayal of the hitman with a heart.
That said though, the thing that stunned me on first viewing, and on each subsequent viewing, is Natalie Portman's performance as Mathilda. I think I'm correct in saying that she was thirteen years old when Leon was filmed and I cannot understand how someone so young could demonstrate such maturity. She is an absolute 'natural', and perfectly cast.
Finally, I was very impressed by the way Besson dealt with the sensitive subject of their 'relationship'. He manages to convey the warmth without making the viewer feel uncomfortable about the (20 year?) age difference. This becomes more important in the 'director's cut' which contains an extra 20 mins of film which explores their relationship in greater depth; Mathilda has 'designs' on Leon, but he keeps things platonic. Beautifully handled.
If you haven't seen this film you owe it to yourself to give it a viewing. A pity there are only 5 stars available!