In her recent English-speaking roles, 50-year-old, bilingual Kristin Scott Thomas has gamely endured the fate of most actresses her age, cast as the fretful mother of Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson in The Other Boleyn Girl and the pinched, sexless guardian of Aaron Johnson's John Lennon in Nowhere Boy. Her French projects, even one as overcooked as Catherine Corsini's Leaving, at least don't neuter her. KST's Suzanne Vidal, a Nîmes homemaker married to imperious physician Samuel (Yvan Attal), with whom she has two teenage children, falls for Ivan (Sergi López, Gallic cinema's standby sexy prole), a Spanish ex-con remodeling a room in the blindingly white Vidal residence for Suzanne's planned physiotherapy practice. In its first half, Leaving offers the delight of watching Scott Thomas expertly negotiate doubt and propriety, slowly giving in to lust; Suzanne and Ivan's midday rutting feels truly emancipating. But the sequence of ridiculously desperate events triggered after Suzanne leaves her vindictive spouse—foretold by a gunshot in the film's flash-forward first scene—call for Scott Thomas to transform from complicated bourgeoise to unbelievable desperate housewife. In any language, the actress does what she can to best serve her scripts, even when they're hopelessly beneath her.
KST in her adulterous prime.
Opens at Seven Gables, Fri., Dec. 3. Not rated. 90 minutes.