Gary Couzens has reviewed Time to Leave (Le temps qui reste), a low-key drama directed by François Ozon, which is on limited release in the UK now.
Thirty-one-year-old Romain (Melvil Poupaud) is a sought-after fashion photographer. He lives the coke-fuelled high life with his young lover Sasha (Christian Sengewald). But then one day he passes out during a shoot. His doctor has bad news: Romain has terminal cancer.
In 2000, François Ozon directed Under the Sand, a sombre film about a woman suddenly widowed. Time to Leave (Le temps qui reste, more accurately translated as The Time Remaining) is the second in a planned trilogy on the theme of mourning.
Once the bombshell has dropped, Romain goes through stages of anger and denial. He’s not an especially likeable character to begin with and his predicament – which no-one else knows at this stage – certainly doesn’t excuse a scene where he verbally lacerates his sister Sophie (Louise-Anne Hippeau) at their parents’ dinner table. He pushes away Sasha as well. The only person he can confide in is his grandmother (Jeanne Moreau). As she says, they are much the same person. As he says, she will die soon herself.
Ozon keeps the proceedings minor-key with a final scene that’s not as open-ended as it seems at first: Romain has moved through all the stages of dealing with his terminal illness and reached acceptance. Not all of the film rings true – especially a scene where Romain is asked by a man to impregnate his wife – but it’s a sensitively handled and thoughtful work, admirably economical at under an hour and a half.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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