The other night was movie night at the Thurman house. As always, we couldn’t agree on a movie until wife #1 suggested a movie that she and I had watched years ago called ‘Leon: The Professional.’ Although I vaguely remembered liking the film, I wasn’t convinced that it was one of those movies that I wanted to rewatch. You know, one of those legendary 5 Star movies that you see maybe once or twice a year. Since Kublaii, and his grandmother had never seen it, we pushed play, and it was 5 stars all around.
Leon: The Professional is about the relationship between a 12-year-old girl, named Matilda, and a professional assassin, named Leon. Even as I write that last sentence, I have to look over my shoulder to make sure there is nobody there to cancel me. After the first half-hour, which I was enjoying, I turned to my son and asked him if it felt a little “pedophily”. He agreed, but we were too enthralled with the superb acting, particularly of Natalie Portman as Matilda to turn it off. (Spoiler Alert) Fortunately, the brilliant ending, turned the concept of LOVE, from the gross, dirty, underaged, disgusting kind of ‘love’, to the pure, noble, life-affirming kind of love that we all (many of us) aspire to.
Jean Reno was perfect for his role as Leon. His dress, a plain brown cap that looks like a condom, round Lennon-like sunglasses, and old brown raincoat, gave him the downtrodden look of a recently arrived immigrant. Matilda, whose family is killed by corrupt DEA officers, is dropped into Leon’s life, and offers Leon what she thinks all men want. In exchange, Matilda asks Leon to assassinate the killers of her family. The is where it got a little awkward to watch, as Leon’s body language suggested that he was thinking about it. When he declines Matilda’s advances, she asks Leon to teach her how to be a “cleaner”, so that she can kill them herself.
Finally, theres Gary Oldman who is in my opinion a Top 5 movie villian. He played the villian in another Luc Besson classic, “The Fifth Element“. His ability to go from a calm, super- intelligent, DEA officer, to a drug-fueled, excesssively violent, unctrollable killer is humoros and horrific at the same time.
Luc Besson. I had forgotten how great Luc Besson is. Luc Besson has no less than four, 5 star movies, that rank in my Top 25. If you liked Leon: The Professional, you’ll also like Nikita, The Big Blue, The Fifth Element, and Lucy.
By the way, remember the brilliant ending I referred to earlier? (Spoiler) Leon’s last words, that he utters as he’s dieing at the hands of Gary Oldman, are “This is from Matilda.” When I heard him say that, I remembered that these were the words to a song that I liked… but I coudn’t remember the name of the song, or the band. When I read the Wikipedia post on this movie, I learned that it was from one of my favorite bands, Alt-J, and the name of the song is “Matilda”. Great song for a great movie.
I couldn’t help but see the similarities between Matilda, and Happy Ho in my book, “Suicide By Everest”. Abused young girls that turn into deadly killers. I’m no Luc Besson, but…..
Review provided by Scott Thurman/Author of Suicide By Everest/scottthurman.com