On the way out of Leaving I heard the gentleman in front of me say that it wasn’t the sort of movie that you liked or didn’t like, which is very true. I can’t say that I enjoyed it, since it was quite upsetting, but I did respect it. It’s a French film, starring Kristin Scott Thomas as a woman who has spent 20 years maintaining a home & raising a family, and existing in a marriage that has devolved into more-or-less roommates.
There’s a fantastic dialogue-free scene of her & her husband in bed; she’s reading a text on reflexology, he’s playing with his phone, and they might as well be in different rooms altogether. It’s the polar opposite of the scene in No Country for Old Men, where Josh Brolin & Kelly Macdonald have a conversation on the couch, both looking straight forward, but with such a clear & deep intimacy. It’s all in the performance. Fantastic.
Scott Thomas’ character isn’t always easy to like, which I appreciated. She falls in love with a Spanish fellow who is doing manual labor under the table for her husband, and when she tells her husband about it, he moves from benign neglect to straight-up abuse, believing he can make her stay through sheer force. (After the screening I heard a guy say “well, it’s not like he was torturing her *every* day”, as if emotional blackmail, wife beating, and intimate partner rape is a-ok as long as you limit yourself to a few times a week. I believe I showed great restraint in not punching him in the nose.) Her character makes decisions which were painful to watch, but were emotionally true, and her performance is brilliant. But it’s definitely not the sort of movie that you like or don’t like.
I did think it noteworthy that the film was written and directed by women. I felt that it made quite a difference in the storytelling. Not that a man couldn’t possibly have told that story in that way, but it’s rare.