Magazine article The Spectator

Pursuit of Love

Magazine article The Spectator

Pursuit of Love

Article excerpt


15, Key Cities

London River

12A, Key Cities

Leaving is a French film while London River is kind of French and although I don't really know what this has got to do with anything I do know the following:

they'll both put you through the wringer.

One (London River) will put you through it rather more than the other but, make no mistake, both will do the job, and it's best you are warned in advanced. No one likes being put through a wringer unexpectedly.

It can ruin your day. And make you late for work.

First, Leaving. This is the properly French film, set around Nimes, written and directed by Catherine Corsini and starring the bilingual Kristin Scott Thomas. Can you take your eyes off Ms Scott Thomas? You cannot. She has, I suppose, an almost cryogenic beauty plus a certain I-don't-know-what.

(I dearly wish there were a neat, simple French phrase to encapsulate that I-don'tknow-what, but you can't have everything, I suppose. ) She plays Suzanne, mother of two and the wife of a well-to-do, well-connected doctor with whom she lives in one of those contemporary, glass, architect-designed houses that, in cinematic terms, are intended to spell out s-o-u-l-l-e-s-s but always look pretty damned fine to me. I could happily live without soul in a house like that. But she is bored, and taken for granted - aren't we all? At least you get a great house of it, love - and it all kicks off when she falls for the Spanish builder (Sergi Lopez) who comes to work on their shed. You can tell she has fallen for him when she takes his hand and puts it on her crotch. It's always a bit of a giveaway, and not something you should ever do in passing. (I tried it once with my postman and got into terrible trouble. He still won't look me in the eye, and posts our letters in really fast. ) This is a tale of passion, obsession, sex and how far Suzanne is willing to go in pursuit of her own desire. And it will put you through it, in spite of yourself, and in spite of it. This is an overwrought film, and it may even be a banal film - it is very Lady Chatterley - and yet I was drawn in and wrung out even though Suzanne isn't especially sympathetic. She treats her husband (Yvan Attal) like some Victorian, patriarchal villain and while he is boorish, doesn't he have the right to try to hang on to her? …

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