Thursday, April 25, 2013
Time to Leave
Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 12/4/06 w/ Additional Edits & Revisions.
Written and directed by Ozon, Le Temps qui reste (Time to Leave)is the story of a young, successful fashion photographer who learns he is about to die from a brain tumor. Alienating everyone in his life including his boyfriend, he turns to his old grandmother and a waitress for help on reflecting his own life. The film is an exploration into the world of death as a young faces what is inevitable. Starring Melvil Poupaud, Daniel Duval, Marie Rivere, Louise-Anne Hippeau, Christian Sengewald, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Jeanne Moreau. Le Temps qui reste is a harrowing yet poignant film about death from Francois Ozon.
When death is becoming certain, it always reveals a certain reaction into how one deals with it. In this film, a photographer named Romaine (Melvil Poupaud) learns that he has a malignant brain tumor with very little time to live. Despite the suggestion to do chemotherapy, Romaine decides not to as he starts to push everyone around him including his family, his boyfriend Sasha (Christian Sengewald), and those closes to him leaving the family upset and Sasha heartbroken by Romaine's decision to end the relationship. The only person that Romaine decides to tell is his ailing grandmother (Jeanne Moreau) while he also meets a waitress named Jany (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) who is desperate to have a child with her husband Bruno (Walter Pagano). In these final moments, Romaine decides to settle everything in his life including doing some things for Jany and Bruno as an act of generosity.
What Francois Ozon does with his screenplay is studying the world of death from the view of a 31-year old man. Instead of creating a high, melodramatic, woe-is-me kind of drama, Ozon goes for a realistic yet cynical study of a young man dealing and accepting his fate. It also reveals that Romaine still hasn't changed early on in the film once he is already aware that he's going to die. Ozon could've made him into a full-on, tragic character but instead, he goes for someone that is like everyone. A character that is flawed like everyone who goes into an emotional, existential journey dealing with who he is and everything.
It's in Ozon's screenplay that allows the audience to give their own interpretation about Romaine's behavior and his melancholic state as he recalls childhood flashbacks and how he takes pictures of things around him including his sister, grandmother, Sasha, Jany, and everything else that surrounds him. The pacing that Ozon takes is deliberate to convey the fact that once someone faces certain death, time slows down. The elliptical pacing won't be for everyone, even for a film that has a running time of 77-minutes. It's something that Ozon chooses to do just to give that atmosphere in his directing. Ozon's directing is more fluid than every with every scene and composition, notably the film's final moments where Romaine begins to accept his fate fully. It's by far some of the most beautiful and harrowing shots composed in film.
Helping Ozon in his visual presentation is longtime cinematographer Jeanne Lapoirie whose photography is as crisp and elegant in many of the film's exterior settings while the interior shots are wonderfully lit to convey the mood of Romaine in his final days. Art director Katia Wyzkop does wonderful work in creating the different places that Romaine goes from the vast, colorful garden house of his grandmother to the posh world that his parents live. Longtime costume designer Pascaline Chavanne does some amazing costume work for Romaine's mother and grandmother as well as the clothes of Romaine that reveal his descent. Editor Monica Coleman does some wonderful jump-cut and freeze-frame cuts to give the idea that Romaine is taking pictures while the slow, elliptical pacing is deliberate for what Ozon wanted. The sound work by Brigitte Tallandier, Aymeric Devoldere, and Jean-Pierre Laforce do wonderful work in giving the moment of silence to convey Romaine's feelings with the sound of the last scene playing through the credits. The music is filled with classical, orchestral cuts to convey the melancholia while it's largely dominated by the piano pieces of Avro Part.
The film's cast is wonderfully assembled with the performances of minor characters like Ugo Soussan Trabelsi as the young Romaine, Alba Gaia Kraghede Bellugi as the young Sophie, Henri de Lorme as Romaine's doctor and Walter Pagano as Bruno. Marie Reverie and Daniel Duval are also excellent as Romaine's caring parents who are unaware of his fate while dealing with his temperamental attitude. Louise-Anne Hippeau is also good as Sophie, Romaine's suffering, fragile sister who is trying to find some care from Romaine. Christian Sengewald is very good as Sasha who is hurt by Romaine's neglect only to be forced to go into his own as he finally finds some acceptance from Romaine.
Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi is wonderful as the sweet Jany who seeks Romaine to give her a child as she sees him as someone who is nice and beautiful where she is unaware of how important she becomes in his final days. The legendary Jeanne Moreau gives a wonderfully understated performance as Romaine's grandmother who understands that her time is now fleeting as she provides the only sense of comfort and wisdom for Romaine. Moreau remains to be an enigmatic beauty and graceful figure that though she's only in the film for about five minutes, her moment is very lasting. Melvil Poupaud is wonderful as the complex, troubled Romaine where he starts out with an arrogant, indifferent attitude only to develop on what he's going to lose and everything only to gain a sense of self in the end. Poupaud, who looks like Eric Bana, definitely takes risks by making himself physically worn out towards the end of the film as he gives a brave performance.
The 2006 Region 1 DVD of Time to Leave presents the film in widescreen with DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound as it's in English subtitles. The special features of the DVD includes the film's original theatrical trailer as well as several trailers including Gregg Araki's brilliant Mysterious Skin from the Strand Releasing company. Two other special features are featured where the first is 18-minutes worth of deleted scenes including a 30-second conversation between Romaine and his father, three extra minutes of Romaine's grandmother talking about his grandfather, a strange meeting with Bruno, a childhood flashback, Romaine discussing depression with his doctor, an alternate scene involving Sophie's letter, a church scene where Romaine talks about faith and how he felt God abandoned him, and an extended take on the film's final sequence.
The second big special feature is a 76-minute making-of featurette. The special features Ozon with his crew including Jeanne Lapoirie, Pascaline Chavanne, and Katia Wyzkop figuring out everything to shoot. Ozon is hands-on a technical director always looking into the camera while directing his actors to try and act natural while in one sequence, he tells Christian Sengewald about a shot where Ozon replied, "Yeah, you suck". One of the most interesting moments in the making-of is with Jeanne Moreau whose experience and wisdom was in awe of the crew and cast while she helped Ozon cut a few lines to make the dialogue flow better. Moreau talked about working with Ozon since she saw his work as a short-film director and was glad how he can direct her without being intimidated. Melvil Poupaud discusses the joy he worked in Ozon in how he wanted to create such a unique character while discussing how hard it was to become very thin for the part. It's a great making-of featurette that reveals Ozon as a director.
Le Temps qui reste is an entrancing yet enchanting film from Francois Ozon that features a chilling yet brilliant performance from Melvil Poupaud. It's a film that explores the world of death with a very low-key style while channeling all of its complexities in the way one reacts. It's also one of Ozon's most mature features that showcases a once-known cinematic bad boy growing up and taking a heavy subject matter by presenting with such delicacy and care. In the end, Le Temps qui Reste is a remarkable film from Francois Ozon.
Francois Ozon Films: See the Sea - Sitcom - Criminal Lovers - Water Drops on Burning Rocks - Under the Sand - 8 Women - Swimming Pool - 5x2 - Angel (2007 film) - Ricky - The Refuge - Potiche - In the House - Jeune & Jolie - (The New Girlfriend) - The Auteurs #33: Francois Ozon
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