Monday, February 14, 2011

Léon [1994]

Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman
Genre: Thriller/Crime Drama
Rating: Teen (mild violence, drug use & sensuality)
Comment: "One of my all-time favourites..."

A reclusive, highly-skilled hitman, Léon, who had never been caught suddenly finds himself in danger after a corrupt narcotics cop killed an entire family of a twelve-year-old girl named Mathilda and she goes to him for help. Reluctantly he takes her into his care, while teaching her his trade.

What to Expect
1. One of Luc Besson's best screenplays
2. Luc Besson's good eye for action
3. A "wise-beyond-her-years" performance by Natalie Portman
4. An almost douchey but endearing performance by Jean Reno
5. An equally memorable performance by Gary Oldman
6. A touching tale, possibly a tear or two by the end of the story

What NOT to expect
1. A gunfest a la Hard Boiled [1992]
2. A traditional action movie
Alright, before you point it out, let me clarify that it is entirely a coincidence that this is the third time I write about a movie that has to do with Natalie Portman. I've said earlier that I have a crush on her, but posting this on Valentine's Day has nothing to with it. But it is true, however, all this mention of Natalie Portman reminded me of this movie I saw a couple of years ago, but never got around to write about it. I think it is absolutely a must-see for movie enthusiasts everyone.

This movie was made around the time when Luc Besson wrote spectacular action films that in many ways defined the genre, but Léon was one of the few that has a hefty amount of emotion injected into it, and it works so well.

In her motion picture debut, Natalie Portman had already shown signs that she is one very capable actor, and she was only eleven years old at the time. As a child actor, playing a character with great emotional distress is a very amazing feat, and her performance in this movie without a doubt makes her worthy of mention among other great child stars like Jackie Cooper, Haley Joel Osment and Dakota Fanning, to name a few.

Insanely adorable, huh?
If you ask me, she kinda triumphs over them all due to the risque nature of her role in this movie with strong Lolita-esque theme. Combine that with the whole thing with emotional distress, it would be a crime to forget the magnificence of her performance.

This is a very character-driven movie - the kind that I tend to think highly of - and the other two leads gave a no less memorable performances themselves, of course I'm talking about Jean Reno and Gary Oldman. I just don't know how else to put it, Jean Reno played this almost douchey but endearing character, still he's not to be taken lightly because he can think of ten ways to kill you before you could even begin to think about running away.

Gary Oldman had always been one of those "everyman" actor that I had always admired, with his chameleonic ability to play anything from a no-nonsense police detective to a colourful, goofy villain. Kind of like Johnny Depp without all those collaboration with Tim Burton.

Another thing that you'll definitely love about this film is how it taps into that brotherly or fatherly nature in all of us. Remember Charlie Chaplin's The Kid [1921]? Or the more recent Big Daddy [1999] starring Adam Sandler? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. You can't really go watch this movie and not at least have a little bit of that warm fuzzy feeling inside.

If I were to ever write a list of must-see movies, this would definitely be somewhere in the top ten.

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