Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, who is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin's trade.
Mathilda, a twelve-year old New York girl, is living an undesirable life among her half-family. Her father stores drugs for two-faced cop Norman Stansfield. Only her little brother keeps Mathilda from breaking apart. One day, Stansfield and his team take cruel revenge on her father for stretching the drugs a little, thus killing the whole family. Only Mathilda, who was out shopping, survives by finding shelter in Léon's apartment in the moment of highest need. Soon, she finds out about the strange neighbour's unusual profession - killing - and desperately seeks his help in taking revenge for her little brother. Léon, who is completely unexperienced in fatherly tasks, and in friendships, does his best to keep Mathilda out of trouble - unsuccessfully. Now, the conflict between a killer, who slowly discovers his abilities to live, to feel, to love and a corrupt police officer, who does anything in his might to get rid of an eye witness, arises to unmeasurable proportions - all for the ... Written by
Julian Reischl <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Both Mathilda and Danny refer to Leon as a "cleaner". The front window of the bodega in Leon's apartment building prominently displays various cleaning products such as Brillo pads, bleach, Ajax, and soap. See more »
Stansfield has never met Léon, nor - at least on-screen - has he seen his picture. Yet, near the end of the film, he catches a brief glimpse of him from a distance and recognizes him. See more »
Allora, come stai, Leone?
[Tony puts out his cigarette in an ashtray]
OK. OK. Let's talk business.
See more »
Under the "SPECIAL THANKS" heading you will find: Chevalier KAMEN (Prince of the Mash Potatoes) Byblos Bill (King of Saint Tropez) Princess Trudy (Queen of Hearts) See more »
Masterpiece of violent Characterisations and fast action-shooting
An interview with Anne Parillaud, in the Evening Standard, 24.8.90, it was said that the message of Nikita is not one of violence but the idea is that people who are full of despair and missing love are not alone.
This idea continues in Léon. Léon was Besson's first foray into international film production. The similarities, or parallels, between Nikita and Léon are undoubted. Both the central protagonists attempt to come to terms with their dysfunctionality, to society, against a background of violence, which they both continue to act upon as the agent of someone else. There is no clean difference (we may also include Le Dernier Combat for comparison.) The only difference is gender.
I always found that until obtaining the "Version Integral" there was a character hole in the plot. The original cut released for US audiences was felt, by Besson, had an "offending" scene cut which ruined later scenes. The American test audiences hated it, seeing it as perverse and paedophiliac. The film was still panned by US critics as quasi-child pornography on general release. What it to be understood about this film, and this is what infuriated Besson, is that the film is about pure love. Not sex, which is all the Americans, could see.
And so we have ascertained that the characters in Besson's films are, simply, great. Then there is the action which is all the grace and style of Nikita. Typical of Besson's style with fast action-shooting and violent characterisation. This has to be one of Jean Reno's and by far Natalie Portman's best screen performance. To me, Gary Oldman plays his part to the tee, said by some magazines to be the best screen bad guy - it is one of his best performances.
Stylisation and excess are hallmarks of Besson's work. Characters are larger than life. Décors are in excess of realism. Besson's characters lack psychological depth. "The sumptuous and the ornate cohabit with the violent or the vulgar." Besson's use of excess is also extremely playful mixing violence with humour. Besson's work appeals to the tastes of popular culture and may not please that of the elite - arguably a reason for the rejection of his work by many intellectual film journals.
I have yet to hear of a person putting a bad word against this film. There is nothing I can personally fault so I give this film 10/10, a score only two other somewhat different films hold in my IMDb list of 345 films - "The Wizard of Oz" and "La Cité des Enfants perdu". If you like French Cinema or consider yourself a cinephile you must see the latter.
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