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TIME TO LEAVE

Director: François Ozon

FRANCE| 2005. SUBTITLED. COLOUR. ANAMORPHIC. DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO. 85 MIN.


The prolific François Ozon returns to the sombre mode of his Charlotte Rampling vehicle ‘Under the Sand’ (‘Sous le sable’) with this deceptively understated, finally haunting meditation on mortality. Romain (Melvil Popaud, from Eric Rohmer’s ‘A Summer’s Tale’) is a hipper-than-thou fashion photographer unprepared—well, who wouldn’t be?—for his doctor to tell him he only has months to live. A selfish, somewhat guarded man, he’s not about to change his ways now, and sets about clearing a pathway to the end of the line by deliberately alienating his family and brutally dumping his live-in boyfriend. His ailing grandma (Jeanne Moreau, still lighting up the screen) is the only one he takes into his confidence, presumably on the grounds that she understands his pain. Nevertheless, an unexpected encounter with a waitress (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, sterling here as in Ozon’s previous ‘5×2’) engenders a late shift in his relationship with his humanity.

As a gay film-maker living in an era darkened by AIDS, this feels like a very personal project for Ozon, whose stylistic versatility sometimes makes it difficult to get a purchase on his creative identity. His approach here can at first appear puzzlingly uninflected, yet by making the protagonist such an aloof individual and draining the piece of any suggestion of touchy-feely melodramatics, he allows the viewer the space for their own thoughts on subject matter the cinema rarely confronts with such direct honesty. The music of Arvo Part and Valentin Silvestrov provide the perfect aural setting for hushed contemplation.—Trevor Johnston.

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