Movie Review: Partir
Release Date: September 14, 2009
Distributor: no distributor
· Catherine Corsini
· Sergi López
· Kristin Scott Thomas
· TIFF Website
· IMDb: Partir
by Robert Bell
Published: September 22, 2009
Aside from a couple of narrative quirks and an occasional peculiarity in scene brevity, "Partir" is 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 is the sort of sudsy fare that the erudite can guiltily enjoy, while others, 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 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 as a glorified servant for her dickhead husband, perhaps as an attempt to play with perception and assumption. 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, to come back home to him.
A tendency to vilify the upstanding doctor simultaneously burdens legitimacy and supports 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.