›› Departure ‹‹

a film by Andrew Steggall.

2015 | 109 mins | UK.

a compelling work on the value of friendship.

Dave says:

Returning to their holiday home in France for the last time, Beatrice (Juliet Stevenson) and her teenage son and aspiring writer Elliot (Alex Lawther) are faced with the daunting task of clearing it out, prior to it being officially sold. Only in a home filled with so many memories, neither at first has the heart to sort through belongings that once meant so much to them, and in the odd case, still do. Perhaps it's of no surprise that they find themselves easily distracted from the job in hand upon the arrival of Clément (Phénix Brossard); a troubled young man who they take an instant liking to. Yet Clément has issues of his own to deal with, a common theme throughout this film, as Beatrice is forced to face the reality of the collapse of her marriage, whilst Elliot finds himself coming to terms with his homosexuality. Only what happens when both mother and son find themselves attracted to the same man?

Written and directed by Andrew Steggall and complete with the odd surreal moment or two, this beautifully acted debut feature is but a melting pot of emotions, backed by the fine cinematography of Brian Fawcett who wonderfully captures, picture postcard style, the French countryside in all of its vivid autumnal glory.

As expected Stevenson is exceptional in the role of a mother on the edge of a mental breakdown, her sheer anguish mirrored in the fine work from Brossard who all too realistically conveys the rebellious nature of a young man with a sad story to tell. Yet whilst Finbar Lynch plays the part of the all but absent father of the piece to a tee, turning up more to sign the required paperwork, than to bring comfort to his family, it's Alex Lawther who steals the show, simply outstanding in his portrayal of a bored teenager caught in the bitter fallout of his parents failing marriage, forever wearing an old military jacket; that of a boy soldier on the front line of his sexuality.

No surprise then that it's the developing friendship between the two young men that draws your attention; that of a teenager coming to terms with his gay self and of a moody youth open to sexual experimentation. Homoerotic at times and played thankfully deliberately slow, this is a work that dares to question the meaning of life and in particular what we want to get out of it? Above all however it speaks of the value of friendship; that of being a friend in need, only for one and all to be overly concerned with their own personal issues to notice the despair in the eyes of those close to them. Often dark, the film ends almost on a cliffhanger, leaving you praying for a happy ending, but unsure until the closing credits roll, in what direction its heading. Utterly compelling, goes without saying.

›› available on DVD from Amazon.
›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› posted: Friday, 23rd October, 2020.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - bare-arsed cheek, plus. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 

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