Leo the Last

Director: John Boorman

U.K.| 1969. Colour. 104 mins.

Marcello Mastroianni, effete and lugubrious, plays Leo, an exiled European aristo eking out a bewildered existence in a dilapidated mansion in Notting Hill, sustained by the dwindled remains of his once-grand entourage. This is another of Boorman’s oblique takes on the Arthurian cycle, with his hero representing the wounded Fisher King contemplating his blighted realm. But it works well on the lighter level of subversive social satire, as Leo reluctantly finds himself dragged into involvement with his impoverished, ethnically diverse neighbours. Leo the Last was acclaimed at the Cannes festival, where it won Boorman the Best Director award, only to flop disastrously at the box office. ‘I find it the most interesting of all my films,’ says Boorman, ‘even if it’s not perhaps completely successful. I like the way it juggles several balls in the air without dropping any of them.’

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