Time to Leave (2005)

“I’m afraid it’s bad news.”

In Time to Leave  (Le Temps Qui Reste) 31-year-old gay fashion photographer Romain (Melvil Poupaud) is diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Chemotherapy offers only a slim hope, and so he rejects treatment. Instead of telling the people in his life that he only has a short time to live, Romain chooses to withdraw and disconnect. Romain fights with his lover, Sasha (Christian Segewald), and even has one last fight with his sister, Sophie (Louise-Anne Hippeau). Instead of turning to his family for love and sympathy, he finds it easier to retreat.

In the precious little time Romain has left, he decides to visit his beloved grandmother Laura (Jeanne Moreau)–a woman with whom he has much in common. He confides in her about his impending death, because, as he bluntly admits, she’s going to die soon too. As his body steadily deteriorates, Romain has a few interesting encounters–including a waitress Jany (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). While Romain readily admits that he’s not a “nice person” in these final days he accepts his fate and stops punishing those people who love him or try to reach out to him.

Time to Leave could so easily have become an impossibly depressing or even sentimental film, but director Francois Ozon deftly avoids those typical pitfalls, while skillfully crafting a delicately, restrained film that manages to deal with Romain’s rage, resentment and anger, and final gentle acceptance of death. The subject matter is helped by the fact that Romain isn’t particularly likeable. Romain’s final redemption–which comes courtesy of a strange offer made by Jany is tremendously bothersome, however, for several reasons. Unfortunately, no details can be given as this would spoil the film for those yet to watch it. Suffice to say, this aspect of the story weakened the film overall. In French with English subtitles.

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