Thursday, February 17, 2011

PARTIR
(LEAVING)

Kristin Scott Thomas, Yvan Attal, Sergi Lopez



In the quiet opening scene of this French movie, a single shot is heard then the title credits comes on. The story resumes 6 months earlier as we take a glimpse into the lives of Suzanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) and Samuel. A wealthy married couple living in the south of France with their 2 teenagers. They may be rich and all but obviously their marriage is NOT a happy one. Samuel (Yvan Attal) is a doctor and he comes across as a control freak. He reluctantly pays for the renovation of an old shed to be converted into Suzanne's office. She desperately wants to revive her physiotherapist career after years of tending the household.

Unfortunately for him, this leads to a crisis in their faltering marriage. Suzanne falls in love with Ivan (Sergi Lopez) an ex-con, Spanish immigrant handyman who is the complete opposite of her bourgeois husband. Her rash decision to leave her husband and fall in total lust for a working class builder seems really irrational. Yet we notice a complete change in her demeanor as a sense of bliss envelops her entire being.

The first half of the movie is fraught with questions. Like "what on earth has gotten into Suzanne?" and "why did she tell Samuel of her illicit affair?" Then as the melodramatic scenes factor in, the plot just turns into a complex mess much like the life that Suzanne has chosen to embark on.

This surely can't possibly end happily as the shot that rings out in the opening scene resonates and reminds us about it. And as most European movies go, the film's final act is an open ended scene. We are left to form our own conclusions from watching Suzanne as a wild-eyed and nearly feral human being reduced to nothing but want. So while "Partir" doesn't really bring anything new to the table as far as illicit affairs are concerned, it is a testament of the way a fine actor (Kristin Scott Thomas) can tell us a story merely from her facial expression and barely needing words.

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