Film Club Review – Leon: The Professional
Leon is about the best hitman in the business who ends up looking after the 12 year old girl living next door when her family is killed. And so begins a pretty damn cool movie.
Leon is a film with great characters, great action, and great cinematography. I love the glimpse we get into the character of Leon. He isn’t a normal person but he also isn’t a cold, dead killer either. He likes house plants, milk, and Gene Kelly, so we do get some semblance of wanting a real life without being able to grasp it.
The relationship between Leon and the girl Matilda is the anchor to this film. It could have been ridiculously botched, but instead it feels authentic and really grounds the film. The dress-up charades scene I found especially grounding. The director Besson does tip-toe on dangerous sexual ground here, but manages to thankfully stay on the right side. The sexual advances are coming from the confused girl, not the adult who only wants to be a father figure. Otherwise this would be a wholly different film.
Another taboo they manage to do right is how they turn this 12 year old girl into an assassin-in-training. Of course to current film fans, this will invoke thoughts of the vastly over-rated and terrible movie Kick Ass and the murderous 11-year old Hitgirl. Natalie Portman’s Matilda is Hitgirl done properly. The idea of this girl as a killer doesn’t become gaudy or the rallying point of the movie, but is dealt with the seriousness it deserves. Its revolting in the right ways, not the wrong ways.
This is a fantastic film. The emotions are authentic, the action is inventive and contemplative, and it is just really easy to get caught up in.