This weekend’s a quiet one for movie openings, at least here in Seattle — a handful of small-scale films, as we await the onslaught of holiday blockbusters and Oscar-bait starting next week. And that gives us time to savor “Leaving,” a French drama starring the great Kristin Scott Thomas and playing this week at the Seven Gables. It’s a familiar story — well-off, bored wife launches an affair with a working-class man — made new by the immediacy Scott Thomas brings to it. (She’s one of few working actors who moves effortlessly between two languages, letting her career swing between French, British and American cinema.) Her character in “Leaving” seems ravished by love and desire; by the end, there’s nothing left of her but longing, as her face seems emptied of all else.
Watching her in this film made me think of the movie in which I was first startled by her: “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” from 1994. (I know I saw her in “A Handful of Dust” some years before that, but for some reason that didn’t register as much; back then I wasn’t writing about movies, and you don’t remember things as well if you’re not writing them down.) In “Four Weddings,” she plays a minor character who quietly steals the movie; a crisply posh young woman who watches her friend Charlie (Hugh Grant) fall in love with a flashy American (Andie MacDowell) without letting on that she loves him. When she does tell him, at a wedding reception, it’s devastating; she smiles the kind of smile that seems made of porcelain (it would shatter if you touched it), and bravely says, accepting his friendship, “Friends isn’t bad, you know. Friends is quite something.” Watch it — and her entire character arc in the movie — in this five-minute clip collection; she’ll break your heart.
Wishing a lovely weekend to Ms. Scott Thomas, and to all of you . . .