Suzanne "Dame Kristin Scott Thomas" is a well to do married mother, but her bourgeois lifestyle gets her down and she decides to go back to work as a physiotherapist by building an office in their backyard. Then Suzanne falls in love with the man hired to build the office.
Suzanne (Dame Kristin Scott Thomas) is a well to do married woman and mother in the south of France. Her idle bourgeois lifestyle gets her down and she decides to go back to work as a physiotherapist. Her husband agrees to fix up a consulting room for her in their backyard. When Suzanne and the man hired to do the building meet, the mutual attraction is sudden and violent. Suzanne decides to give up everything and live this all engulfing passion to the fullest.
Director Catherine Corsini doesn't pull any punch depicting a love triangle of sort in Partir. Suzanne is a typical bourgeois wife of Samuel, a well-connected doctor. Children, big house, steady comfort, Suzanne has everything she could want, except passion. One day, she meets Ivan who make ends-meet working odd jobs and something clicks.
This very simple, very classic story is made worthwhile for several reasons. The main one being Kristin Scott Thomas delivering yet again a masterful performance. The role is tailor- made for this actress who knows how to subtly let us share the confused state of mind her character is in. Sergi Lopez and Yvan Attal are also good, although their roles are understandably much less challenging.
Where the screenplay shines is by not spoon-feeding us with justifications or condemnations for the characters. Suzanne's husband does seem somewhat boring, but he's not some evil one-dimensional character. And her new romantic interest Yvan is not an adventurous "alpha male". In fact, although Yvan does represent the freedom Suzanne never had thanks to his bohemian lifestyle, he seems like a somewhat vulnerable man and not terribly versed in "romancing" a woman. She seems more like the one pursuing him to enter this relationship.
Speaking of relationships, this is also where the movie shines. We're never entirely sure if what Suzanne is experiencing is true love, or rather if she's just looking for a way out from her husband and lifestyle. The director doesn't hold anything back, showing the vulnerability of each of the three character, how selfish they can be, discarding their responsibilities, lying and justifying reprehensible acts against each others.
This film is fascinating because, in the true tradition of French cinema, it goes for realism. You've seen some of these things happen around you, you may have lived through them. Watch this movie with a few people and you're likely to find people split. Some might sympathize with Suzanne, others with her husband, others with her lover. Yet others might sympathize with all three or none of them.
In short, Catherine Corsini is not trying to tell you what you should think and lets you make your own impressions throughout the events depicted. There is joy and pain in relationships because relationships, like us, aren't perfect. This is one such story, showcasing the imperfections.
My rating would be higher had we been provided with more context. We barely get a glimpse of Suzanne before she meets Yvan. As well, the conclusion did seem sudden and over-the- top to me. Lastly, I feel the husband and children could have used a few more minutes of screen time.
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