Partir : Leaving

Recently I viewed the French film Partir (Leaving) from 2009.  What first drew me to this film was the presence of Kristin Scott Thomas, the wonderful French actress who won me over in Il y a Longtemps Que Je T’aime (I’ve Loved You So Long 2008). Her performance was astounding in that film, where her character is recently released from prison for killing her own infant child.  However, throughout nearly the entire film, her character stifles her reason and emotion, creating awkward encounters when trying to reintroduce herself socially.

Kristin Scott Thomas and Sergi López in Leaving 2009

In Partir, Thomas plays a wife, mother who falls in love with a contractor hired by her husband to construct a new physiotherapy office at their home so she can start up her practice again.  Sounds sticky, right?  It gets stickier as she tries to give up her lover on orders of her husband, just to go right back to her passionate affair.  As she attempts leaving her husband, he does his best to make life miserable for the two lovers…  and possibly succeeds.  You be the judge of the outcome.  Ultimately, I felt that her character handles the situation like a person who has thrown all logic out the window.  Her husband’s reaction is a form of angry denial, her son is the most understanding/accepting while her daughter wants nothing to do with her.  Oh the web we weave.

The outcome is strikingly reminiscent of one of my favorite classic Truffaut films, La Peau Douce (The Soft Skin 1964).  La Peau Douce has a similar plot of an extramarital affair, however the roles are reversed.  In this film the husband, father falls desperately in love with a young flight attendant, and his wife is unaccepting of the situation.  In both films the wives play the role of the emotionally illogical.  I won’t go into further details on either film, as I truly wish not to spoil either startling outcome.  You will just have to take my word for it that each is worth a serious watch.

Françoise Dorléac and Jean Desailly in La Peau Douce 1964

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