Time to Leave (Le Temps Qui Reste) - A subtle melodrama from Francois Ozon

Six years have passed since acclaimed French Auteur; Francois Ozon began his trilogy on love and loss with the film, Under The Sand. It was a highly ambiguous feature that was short on words and long on sexual tension. The film dealt with a woman whose husband vanishes into the sea without a trace. Ozon's second piece of the trilogy, 'Time to Leave' presents many of the same themes and scenery as Under the Sand, though this time Ozon studies the person who will be dying.

Romain is forced to confront terminal cancer

     Romain (Melvil Poupaud) is a gay fashion photographer whose promiscuous lifestyle comes to a grinding halt when he is confronted with terminal cancer. The doctor believes that a five percent chance of living is worth fighting for, but Romain refuses chemotherapy in order to maintain his hair and dignity before dying. At first, Romain lashes out in a dinner argument with his pregnant sister and becomes ambivalent toward his loving parents. After dinner, Romain goes home to treat his lover, Sasha (Christian Sengewald) with heartless contempt before ending their three-year romance.    

Romain's grandmother offers her sympathy

     Try as he might, Romain's attempts to push loved ones away and deal with his death fall short when everything around him appears so alive. After a night spent with his grandmother, Laura (Jeanne Moreau) Romain realizes how selfish he has been and that is when things begin to change in his final months. With a restored sensitivity, Romain begins to see everything that he will soon be leaving behind, even capturing life's fleeting moments with his digital camera. In one final image that beautifully recalls 'Under the Sand' Romain comes back to the ocean from his youth and this time, Ozon follows him out to sea. 

     With this second piece of the trilogy, Ozon continues his mastery of the subtle melodrama. His typically minimal dialogue and camera work keep the film from becoming awash in the tedious melodrama that has created so many contemporary Hollywood soap operas. While Romain has obviously changed in many ways, finding inner peace before his death, we know this because we see it in Romain's actions, not his words. Melvil Poupaud gives a breakthrough performance that captures a dying man with true demons, as opposed to the hero who can only do right; the type of protagonist we typically expect in films of this nature.   
     'Time To Leave' is currently screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival and will open in limited release on July 21st. Tickets and information for the Los Angeles Film Festival can be obtained online at www.lafilmfest.com.

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