4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
a film to discuss more than to enjoy,
This review is from: Leaving [DVD]  (DVD)
Unlike some reviewers I certainly thought this was well acted and I had no problem with the script. In fact the pacing is rather good, not getting the relationship off the ground too quickly or easily, and finding a good pretext. The attraction seemed to surprise them both; certainly you didn't feel it was contrived in a Confessions of a Window Cleaner kind of way! I thought the love between them gave the film something you could enjoy, as it did convey the tenderness and the elation, with a sense of the woman's perspective, which was refreshing. The explicitness had something quite different from the standard thriller shot through male eyes (and was a lot better). The casting is superb, as Sergi Lopez is very good at making this type of character immensely sympathetic and he contrasted brilliantly with the elegant refinement of Kristin Scott Thomas, fully bearing out the old adage that opposites attract.
For me the husband was unsympathetic, even from the first moments where he seemed to be asserting his power over people who were working for him, with a slightly patronising comment to his wife about her proposed physio practice, and a wholly unnecessary repeating of her offer of coffee, which seemed to be his way of rubber-stamping it, of asserting his control. There are just too many men like this, especially when they have power at work and financially in the home. Everything he does when the affair comes to light is horrible, treating her merely as a possession, and feeling mainly wounded pride, made worse by the lover's social inferiority. My impression was that the director had little time for him, and he ends up really being nasty without any sense of sadness or understanding. The melodrama is justified in that an extreme case makes the points better. The film really seems to draw attention to how a woman can be completely controlled by a husband who may not be at all nice when the gloves come off, and that the years spent bringing up children won't help her if he is well connected. I found this shocking, and it draws attention to how the law needs to be changed to prevent such awful scenarios from being possible. The only weakness is perhaps the role of the children, particularly her daughter, who strongly resents her mother - quite selfishly, because she doesn't think her mother has any right to fulfilment - but nevertheless this would give the mother pause and would be in her thoughts more, surely, than seemed to be the case here? The unpleasantness of much of the film also means that in the end it is more of a tract than a film in the fullest sense - there is little poetry except in the sexual rapture. This makes it feel a bit like being forced through a tunnel with no escape. But it is an important film nevertheless, and the central couple do stick in the memory, their final doom suggested by a siren heard in the midst of the most idyllic scenery. Perhaps it is a Brief Encounter for now, with legal ramifications to the fore - but a real feeling of staking everything on love as well.