Time to Leave (2005) Le Temps qui reste
Directed by Franois Ozon
Starring Melvil Poupaud, Jeanne Moreau, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi
Before reading my comments I have to admit that in a way I have explored this type of scenario myself which led me to believe that this was a very personal journey for the director (a point that was confirmed in an interview on the dvd). This may have affected my overall judgement of the film but I have the feeling that it may touch many others in the same way.
Romain, a young Parisian fashion photographer collapses during a shoot, after medical tests he is given the news that he is riddled with cancer and without treatment he'll have around three months to live. Upon hearing that his chances of recovery are less than 5% he decides to forego any treatment and live out his remaining time in his own way.
He doesn't inform his immediate family though they notice a difference in his attitude during a family lunch, not that surprising really as most of the conversations revolve around future events, events that Romain knows he'll never see. Rather than telling his lover the truth, Romain just tells him he's bored of the relationship and it's over, the obvious point and connection between the family and lover is that he doesn't want them to have to live with the knowledge and therefore pain of his impending demise.
A road trip to his Grandmother does at least offer a safety valve for his mixed emotions, when she asks why he has told her but nobody else, he remarks that at her age she's pretty much in the same position, death could come knocking at any time. It is here with his Grandmother that he can liberally shed tears, it is also here that he starts reminiscing about his childhood days and his now strained relationship with his sister.
On returning to Paris Romain hopes for one more lliason with his lover but is turned down, such is the cost for with-holding the truth. He goes to a church but this just brings back more memories from his childhood. After receiving a letter from his sister they have a form of reconcilliation, at least he feels that he has made his peace with her. On a hot summer's day he heads one last time to beach, enjoys a swim and just lays in the glow of the sun.
Throughout the film, the one constant is the camera that Romain carries with him, he continually takes photos of friends, family and general shots of life carrying on around him while he is decaying inside, this is also reflected in the last scene as life carries on with, or without him.
There is much left unsaid, what caused the rift between Romain and his sister? Plus several other smaller things, it's actually a good thing there are things left unclarified leaving points to ponder after the film.
The film does take on a slightly fanciful mode involving Valeria Bruni Tedeschi's character and her husband, but I think this is a very personal project for the director, a sort of "what if" type story, this little bit of (presumably) self indulgence doesn't harm the film in the slightest.
Time to Leave has been rated 18 in the UK, the reason is for a fairly strong gay sex scene which fits completely within the overall structure of the story and shows the bond between Romain and his lover.
An excellent soliloquy on life, love and death, a film that sprung to mind for comparison was "Christmas in August" but it's only the overall theme that bears similarity, they are both very good films though.
Certaiinly Ozon's best film since Under the Sand, in my opinion it is probably his best film so far. Highly recommended but be aware of the strong sex scene.
BBFC rated 18
Excellent R2 dvd released by Artificial Eye with a stack of extras including: