Fresh from her remarkable, award-winning role in last year’s Il y a longtemps que je t’aime, Kristin Scott Thomas returns to the Festival opposite the smouldering Catalan actor Sergi Lopez in Catherine Corsini’s gripping tale of a mid-life affair in southern France.
A gunshot erupts in the night, puncturing the quiet of a slumbering house. From this ominous opening, Partir jumps back in time several months. Suzanne (Scott Thomas) is preparing to return to work as a physiotherapist after years at home caring for her brusque doctor husband, Samuel (Yvan Attal), and her teenaged son and daughter. Samuel hires Ivan (Lopez) to build Suzanne her own backyard clinic. A former convict with a young daughter in Spain, Ivan responds cautiously at first to Suzanne’s natural warmth. But when an accident brings the two closer together, social barriers give way to mutual attraction. As their relationship intensifies, Suzanne leaves her bewildered husband and children, abandoning her comfortable lifestyle for Ivan’s cramped apartment. Practical matters soon disturb the lovers, however. Ivan can’t work because of an injured leg, and Suzanne, thwarted by her aggrieved husband, is reduced to doing odd jobs. With money growing scarcer, she becomes increasingly desperate.
Corsini sets a simmering mood from the outset, contrasting the cool, clean aesthetic of the domestic space with Suzanne’s sun-kissed vitality. Yet for all the heat of the affair, Partir is in essence the story of a family in freefall. While the daughter echoes her father’s anger at Suzanne, the son remains loyal, and his attempts to support his mother as she veers further and further away from the woman he knew are truly touching. [Synopsis courtesy of TIFF]