2 June 2017


Léon 1994
  • Director: Luc Besson
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman, Danny Aiello
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Jean Reno – Avis de mistral (My summer in Provence), Hustle, Les visiteurs, Nikita, Le grand bleu
    • Natalie Portman – Thor, Black Swan, The other Boleyn Girl, Darjeeling Limited, Paris je t’aime, V for Vendetta, Star Wars, Closer, Cold Mountain, Anywhere but Here, Mars Attacks!, Beautiful Girls
    • Gary Oldman – The Dark Knight Rises, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Harry Potter, The Book of Eli, The Dark Knight, Friends, The Fifth Element, Immortal Beloved, Romeo Is Bleeding, True Romance, Dracula, JFK, State of Grace, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Prick Up Your Ears, Sid and Nancy, Meantime
    • Danny Aiello – The Closer, Do the Right Thing, The January Man, Moonstruck
  • Why? Besson. Oldman. Very good film
  • Seen: Two or three times previously. Now 27 May 2017

             Assassins are not cool. I mean, come on, they kill people for money. That is really not OK.
       Why then is Léon so cool? Must be the round shades and the black coat and the too short trouser legs. And the houseplant. And his friendship with the young Mathilda, the neighbour girl who lives with her drug dealing dad, hooker mum, abusive older sister and beloved little brother.
       Social realism on a high excitement level.
       Pill-popping, poetic, Beethoven-loving, totally insane Gary Oldman murders Mathilda’s family while she’s at the supermarket. Léon takes her in. She finds out he’s a hitman and thinks that’s cool. She offers to do his housekeeping if he teaches her to be a hitman so she can kill the men who killed her brother. Léon says no. A lot of good that does. She may be a little girl but she’s a tough, fast-talking, street smart charmer.
       The film is tender, funny and complex. And exciting.
       Jean Reno is perfect as the vulnerable, ruthless, kind illiterate Léon. Gary Oldman is a brilliant mad villain as only Gary Oldman can be. Young Natalie Portman is incredible in the star-making role.

5 * of 5   


  1. Another sentimental favourite, and another very entertaining review. Gary Oldman's glorious, isn't he? I bet the Beethoven stuff was a deliberate reference to his playing old Ludwig in "Immortal Beloved", admittedly not the greatest biopic out there but still interesting.* Very original and moving story - "Leon", I mean - and perfectly written, cast and acted. I have yet to see anything by Reno and Portman to beat their performances here, but I admit I am not very familiar with their filmographies. I've been trying to think of other movies that present compassionate portaits of assassins and I could come only with Alain Delon in "Le Samourai" and, on a lower level, Mickey Rourke in "Killshot".

    *Both movies seem to have been made at the same time. So the reference must have been something like an improvisation, Gary's or the screenwriter's. Most funny would be if Gary was cast as Beethoven because of his piano performance in "Leon". But I guess that's too romantic.

    1. Thanks for this one, Alexander! Yes, I wondered about Oldman's Beethoven lines and his 'Immortal Beloved' (which I love, btw, in spite of its flaws. I will have to watch it again soon and review it). And yes, Léon is very original and moving. Another one to watch again and again.