English Patient star looks at violence in marriages

The nature of violence, the phenomenon of lust, the urge for freedom and the power of dependence. A highly inflammable love drama with a French twist, “Leaving” has been released in Russia.

The star of The English Patient, Oscar-nominated British actress Kristin Scott Thomas spoke about the family drama in an exclusive interview with RT, saying her lead role in “Leaving” required a lot of savage energy.

In fact, Thomas’ character Suzanne may have some similarities with Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary, in terms of their power of love and passion that can hardly be controlled.

A middle-aged woman, Suzanne lives in the south of France with her two teenage children and her husband, who works as a well-off doctor. Their well-predicted, seemingly cloudless family life, however, loses its whole meaning after Suzanne falls in love with Ivan, a Spanish blue-collar worker, who has been to prison and can hardly make ends meet.


Kristin Scott Thomas and Sergi López in "Leaving"

Suzanne is trapped, being financially dependent on her husband, but she is ready to cut herself off from her posh bourgeois life, regardless of the consequences.

However, leaving her family and losing everything she has – children, money, respect and status – turns into a tormenting experience for everyone involved, and even more so for Suzanne.

Giving up everything for the sake of her kinetic passion and desire is a torture she can neither resist, nor put an end to. The challenge is to learn to be herself again, plunging into her middle-aged unexpected love affair from head to toe.

Could Kristin Scott Thomas imagine herself in a similar situation?

“Well, I had to imagine it for six weeks – that’s my job – I imagine. It was very, very, very difficult. It was very tough and uncomfortable, and angry-making, actually, because of this woman having to stay with her husband because you don’t have any money! You’re stuck – and he may be beating you, abusing you verbally and you’re stuck in it because you cannot get away! And I know that that’s the situation that exists. I’ve seen it around me.”


"Leaving" by Catherine Corsini  (image from kinoposik.ru)

Thomas said she was curious to look at violence and financial dependence in marriages. “Being trapped between desire, and love, and lust in a middle-aged woman – all those things were interesting subjects for me,” Thomas told RT’s Valeria Paikova.

She made clear that playing in “Leaving” was quite disturbing because “the emotion is so strong and the events are sometimes so violent.”

“It’s the story of lust and desire, [something] so passionate and unbalancing that I had to be very trusting and brave. I had to trust [director] Corsini and I had to be very brave with my own self.”

Thomas has previously worked with such filmmakers as Roman Polanski, Anthony Minghella and Brian de Palma, among others. Has working with a female director – Catherine Corsini – been different?

“No,” she replies, “I’ve worked with a lot of women recently. It was great to have a woman director for the love scenes, because they are very frightening to do and I didn’t feel so alone, but I think working with women and working with men is the same thing. The language of film is the same.”

Bilingual and versatile, it seems that Thomas speaks it fluently and flawlessly.

Valeria Paikova, RT