Published: March 16, 2011
MPI Home Video
Catherine Corsini co-wrote—along with Gaëlle Macé, Antoine Jaccoud, and Emmanuelle Bernheim—and directed this dramatic love story about a tightly wound woman whose sensual unraveling becomes her downfall. In the French countryside, Englishwoman Suzanne (Kristen Scott Thomas) lives happily with her two teenage children David (Alexandre Vidal) and Marion (Daisy Broom) and doctor husband Samuel (Yvan Attal). Her almost-20 years of raising children and caring for the household are coming to an end as she trains to start her own business as a physiotherapist in a soon-to-be renovated part of their large home.
Construction begins bringing out Samuel’s aggressive and distracted nature: He berates the contractor and demands exactly what he asked for while dismissing details like the name of the Spanish man brought on to help, Ivan (Sergi López). Friendly and open Suzanne notices everything, and when Ivan kindly fixes a broken lamp, she laps it up like a kitten with cream. Injured while helping with Suzanne’s runaway car on the street, Ivan ends up in the hospital with a broken ankle on the one weekend he was scheduled to finally see his daughter Berta (Berta Esquirol) after doing time in prison for what he dismisses as kids’ stuff.
There is no turning back for these two after Suzanne drives him to Spain to see Berta and they share an intimate dinner followed by a stunning scene on a dark deserted street. Caught from up high, the two are reduced to silhouettes walking side-by-side until he kisses her and she resists, pulls away, and continues walking. We see nothing of their faces during these few moments; it’s a visual technique that gets reprised when they have sex, and it illustrates not only their intense physical attraction and sexual chemistry but also the exclusive world they inhabit when it’s just them two.
Leaving feels so European when Suzanne comes clean about her affair—she just tells Samuel the truth after losing her shit over a roasted chicken—instead of living two lives until one forces itself on the other. She tries to stay with her by-now incredibly angry husband and rather unsympathetic and needy children but she can’t and she leaves her bourgeois life for one of scraping by, a new life that includes all the passion she was seeking and all the tragedy we know comes from making these kinds of choices.
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