Published Sep 15, 2009Aside from a couple of narrative quirks and an occasional peculiarity in scene brevity, Partir is a fairly standard exercise in trashy mainstream cinema with a little feminist panache thrown in for good measure. With current French-speaking "it girl" Kristin Scott Thomas in tow, and a distinctly adult sensibility, it's the sort of sudsy fare that the erudite can guiltily enjoy, while those typically put off by foreign art house fare should find its broad accessibility favourable.
Jumping into the story quite rapidly, bourgeois housewife Suzanne (Thomas) works on some home renovations with Ivan (Sergi Lopez), the hired Spanish help illegally acquired by her entitled, solipsistic husband, Samuel (Yvan Attal), a doctor, of course. When Ivan suffers an injury on the job, Suzanne winds up driving him back to Spain, developing a bit of an erotic fixation, which leads to much gritty sex.
Oddly enough, Partir details this budding romance before stepping back to look closer at Suzanne's day-to-day existence as a glorified servant for her dickhead husband, perhaps as an attempt to play with perceptions and assumptions. This visage is abandoned in the latter half of the film, when Samuel pulls out every vicious punch possible to get his wife, or property, back.
A tendency to vilify the upstanding doctor simultaneously burdens the legitimacy of the film and supports its subtext, as what we have here is essentially a modern look at male entitlement and capitalistic folly. Samuel is able to use his influence and financial security to destroy his ex-wife and her new beau regardless of her many attempts to gain independence and fight fairly. The implication is that life as a homemaker can be a prison, liberal egalitarian nonsense aside.
Quick pacing, ready engagement and another standout performance from Kristin Scott Thomas make this French potboiler a joy to watch, even if it is somewhat slight and lacking in credulity. (Pyramide)