French with English subtitles
Suzanne (Scott Thomas), a middle-class housewife, finds herself drawn to builder Ivan (Lopez). Soon sparking into an intense love affair, Suzanne struggles to extricate herself from the life she shares with her husband and children.
The affair is explored as a maddening rush of lust and love between Suzanne and Ivan. Their scenes are a collage, cut between shots of ecstatic lovemaking and tender moments of the couple playing family with Ivan's young, estranged daughter.
In what is a slight departure from the usual offering of motive on the woman's part, - i.e. the bored, neglected housewife who's seduced by the exciting inticement of a man whom lavishes her with the attention and much needed affirmation she craves - 'Leaving' depicts the affair as sparked by an almost chemical reaction between Suzanne and Ivan.
First the relationship is built on the platonic foundations of teamwork, when Ivan is hired as builder for the outhouse to Suzanne's physiotherapy business. Mutual dependence is acknowledged and appreciated, soon developing into an intense, almost unbearable passion for each other. There are of course the comparison shots highlighting the ever widening chasm between Suzanne and her husband, and the unrivaled intimacy with Ivan.
Kristen Scott-Thomas gives a raw and visceral performance. Her expressions and movements are those of a woman long out of touch with the instinct of romantic love. The awe and shock at the intensity of her own feelings is palpable and allows for a detraction from Suzanne as a target of antipathy. This doesn't necessarily equate with sympathy or justification for her unfaithfulness and at times Suzanne is rather candid with regards to her infidelity. Her astonishment at the pull she feels towards Ivan is compelling and a matter of intrigue rather than admonishment for the audience.
Leaving (Partir) is an open and raw portrayal of infidelity as a vehicle of self-discovery and reaffirmation. The performances are frank and infused with the intensity of pure, unbridled emotion.