Leave of Absence (1994) starring Brian Dennehy, Jacqueline Bisset, Blythe Danner, Polly Bergen, Noelle Parker, Tim Lounibos, Jessica Walter directed by Tom McLoughlin Movie Review

Leave of Absence (1994)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Brian Dennehy in Leave of Absence (1994)

Till Death do Us Part

Sam (Brian Dennehy) has been happily married to Elisa (Blythe Danner) for years and his daughter Zoey (Noelle Parker) is spending a semester working with him at the architecture business which he is a partner of. But things suddenly change when the fun loving, free spirited Nell (Jacqueline Bisset) breezes into his life as a client who he is working for. Soon Sam has fallen for the dynamic Nell and they embark on an affair till tragedy strikes when Nell is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Torn Sam not only informs his family of what has been going on but says he wishes to move in with Nell and be there for her during her final months and days before returning home.

I have a question for you, do you believe there is one person for each of us or do you believe it is possible for someone to be in love with more than one person at the same time? Actually I have another question for you, do you believe in the sanctity of marriage? I ask for the simple reason that depending on where you stand morally will depend on how you much you enjoy "Leave of Absence", a movie which puts that situation right at the forefront of the drama.

Jacqueline Bisset in Leave of Absence (1994)

Now it as to be said that "Leave of Absence" is a curious movie when you consider it is a made for TV movie which is a genre than generally play things very safe in order not to offend its audience yet here it serves up a man who embarks on an affair and then expects to leave his family to care for his mistress but return when she passes away. I must admit I don't know how I feel about this especially considering "Leave of Absence" features a cast of actors who I enjoy and put in enjoyable performances. I won't say as to how this drama eventually plays out as it is such a different set up that it isn't one you can fully predict.

The thing is that despite leaving me conflicted "Leave of Absence" is well acted with Brian Dennehy turning on the charm as the old fashioned yet easy going Sam who finds himself falling for Nell. It is when he becomes conflicted by his feelings early on and short tempered as he deals with the guilt which really impresses as he make it very real. At the same time Jacqueline Bisset is equally charming as Nell; flirtatious, lively and quite simply attractive and she works well with Dennehy. Unfortunately both Blythe Danner and Noelle Parker struggle with under written characters and fail to make an impression.

What this all boils down to is that "Leave of Absence" is a curious movie due to its unusual premise for a TV movie. It does have some depth and some interesting elements as well as good performances from Brian Dennehy and Jacqueline Bisset but it does leave me conflicted as to how I feel about it due to the nature of the story.