Picture the scene, a woman in bed next to a man, she is unable to sleep so gets up and walks to another room, we don't see what happens next but we hear a gun go off. That is the opening to "Leaving" and it is a clever opening because we wonder what happened, has the woman shot herself or did she return to shoot the man. It then jumps back 6 months at which point we have a movie about this woman embarking on an affair with a Spanish labourer and whilst there are some beautiful scenes, some sex scenes and nudity as well as a glowing Kristin Scott Thomas it becomes very ordinary. It's a shame that "Leaving" ends up so ordinary as it had the potential to be a passionate thriller.
After almost twenty years of marriage and raising her children Suzanne (Kristin Scott Thomas - Confessions of a Shopaholic) decides she wants to work again and her husband Samuel (Yvan Attal) agrees to have an out building in the garden converted so she can start her own physio business. It is how she met Ivan (Sergi López), a Spanish builder who is hired to renovate the building and they end up sharing a spark which is lacking in her marriage to her self righteous husband. But after starting an affair and leaving Samuel she and Ivan find life hard as Samuel freezes her bank account and makes it hard for Ivan to find work.
As I said the opening is the best part of the movie because of that one doubt it sows in your mind as to who if anyone was the victim of the gunshot. After that it becomes a pretty routine adultery movie as Suzanne finds the warmth and passion lacking from her marriage in the arms of Ivan and decides to leave her family to be with him. There are some interesting elements from Suzanne's immediate guilt following their first sheet ruffling moment of passion which leads to her telling Samuel she has met someone else and there is also the volatile way Samuel deals with it. But what follows is not that unexpected as Samuel makes life incredibly difficult for them both.
The trouble is that whilst what happens with Samuel making life hard is not to difficult to believe how Suzanne and Ivan react seems out of style with the first half of the movie. It takes it from what is believable as we see Suzanne in an unhappy marriage to something which seems unbelievable. Although having said that it does lead to that increasing sense of curiosity as to what happened in the opening scene and makes it almost a twist on the movie "Unfaithful".
But despite the plot turning from reality to fantasy the acting throughout is good with both Sergi López and Yvan Attal playing their respective parts well with Attal being cruel and demanding whilst López has a touch of passion about him. But the star of the movie is Kristin Scott Thomas whose body language plays a huge part in the telling of the story, from the look of emptiness when near Samuel to glowing when around Ivan. And to be honest considering Kristin Scott Thomas has played a fair few cold characters in her time watching her glow and act in love is a pleasure to watch.
What this all boils down to is that "Leaving" thankfully starts off on a moment of intrigue because it is that which keeps you interested in what is going to happen. Unfortunately much of what we watch happen ends up not just ordinary but also far fetched.