When we first meet Suzanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) she is about to start a new phase in her life. Her kids are in their teens, self sufficient and the time has come for her to go back to work as a physiotherapist. She’s going to create and office at her home and she and her doctor husband Samuel (Yvan Attal) hire Ivan (Sergi Lopez) to clear out the space.
Suzanne is restless and getting back to work (along with retraining and getting up to speed on a profession she has been out of for a long time) shakes her to her core. So when she literally runs into Ivan with her car, and spends some time with him, the experience awakens something dormant in her now boring middle class french life. They start a passionate affair (some of the sexiest scenes I have seen in some time) that leads her abandon her husband and her family for a working class stiff who brought her back to life.
The Kristin Scott Thomas of Leaving reminds me of the Kristin Scott Thomas of The English Patient, cool on the surface, but smoldering underneath. I could watch her in anything at anytime. She’s just that good. When she falls in love with Ivan she just smolders onscreen and over the course of the film you see her start to value her freedom and love over the restrictive life with Samuel where she performs as the proper wife and mother.
Samuel is not happy that Suzanne left, especially for a man of no means. And so he exacts his revenge on her by completely cutting her off financially. Suzanne goes from a comfortable middle class life to picking vegetables. At first she doesn’t care but then life becomes unmanageable and unbearable.
The film is like an ode to Leslie Bennetts’ The Feminine Mistake which warns women not to ever stop earning a living. Suzanne thought that Samuel would give her what she earned because she has raised his kids and taken care of him for almost two decades. But she left and the rules are that she has to be punished.
The film is co-written and directed by Catherine Corsini and opens today in NYC.