Directed by Andrew Stegall. Starring Juliet Stevenson, Alex Lawther, Phénix Brossard, Finbar Lynch, Niamh Cusack, Patrice Juiff.
THE PLOT: It’s France, it’s a faded marriage, and Beatrice (Stevenson) is clearing out the family holiday home with her 15-year-old son, Elliot (Lawther). When Elliot makes friends with Clément (Brossard), he’s soon helping with the furniture moving. And kissing Beatrice on the sly. And getting handjobs from Elliot.
Hey, when in France…
When the man of the soon-to-be-sold house, Philip (Lynch), arrives, tensions rise, as awkward family truths have to be confronted.
Hey, when in France..
THE VERDICT: As you may have gathered, there’s something very French about this UK/France production, despite all the heavy hitters being English. Swap Stevenson for Kristin Scott Thomas, and you’d be on very familiar ground. Described by its debuting writer/director Andrew Steggall as “a mythological eulogy to love and loss”, the overriding sense of melancholy and the wallowing in the sensual world as much as the practical gives ‘Departure’ a seductive gaze.
That Stegall overplays the sensual world imagery every now and then is perhaps forgiveable, given the forlorn storyline and the beautiful Languedoc landscape. And Stevenson is, as always, compelling to watch, a woman drowning, but keeping all her panic beneath the water…
Review by Paul Byrne