The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Seventeen Year Old Léon Still Going Strong

with 6 comments

Action movies isn’t normally a genre I’m drawn to. I suppose I’m a little bit too squishy and most of the time the violence in them just makes me feel sick. But Léon blew my mind. Yes, there IS a lot of killing going on and a tremendous amount of blood, but oh, it’s pretty, sooo pretty and well done. Every single camera shot is there for a reason, composed with care and thinking, as far as I can tell.  You wouldn’t believe this movie actually is 17 years old.

It isn’t just the looks that makes this movie brilliant, it also rests safely on the wonderful performances of the main actors Jean Reno, as the professional killer, a very young Natalie Portman as the girl who befriends him, and Gary Oldman as a tremendously creepy villain.

It was only one little thing that bothered me, and I suspect it has to do with the fact that I’m the mother of two daughters myself, which might make me more receptive for this. I simply don’t like when you sexualize 12-year-old girls on the screen, giving them a Lolita aura and dressing them in challenging clothes. Actually I’ve understood that the previews of the movie had this sort of reactions in US, which made Besson cut it a bit to make it more acceptable. And I think it was this censored version I saw, but there were some sequences lingering in it that… well… didn’t exactly cross the line to me but were a little bit too close. I wish the girl could have remained just a girl, seeing Léon as a father figure rather than as a potential lover. Like the heroine of True Grit. But again, maybe it’s just the mother in me speaking there.

However apart from this remark, as a whole, I loved it and it was a great reminder to me how many wonderful movies from the past that I’ve yet to see. There’s no need pay to see crappy superhero blockbusters of 2011. My “to-see-one-day” list is not only long, but also full of high quality films, which won’t cost me a dime (I found this one in a bookshelf of my mother’s), only a little bit of attention.

Léon (Besson, 1994) My rating: 4,5/5

Written by Jessica

July 20, 2011 at 11:31 am

Posted in Léon

6 Responses

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  1. Seventeen years? Jeebers, where do they go….

    But yes, a really good movie. You’ll find this one on my bookshelf as well.

    Michael Cruse

    July 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm

  2. I know, it’s really strange. I never get used to the idea that classical movies aren’t just the old black-and-white ones from the 40s; they’re also movies that I think of as “recent”, something I saw “the other year”.


    July 21, 2011 at 8:36 pm

  3. I loved Léon. I don’t do too many action films – I dislike car chases, bombs and shootouts where innocent passers by are involved. I had a good rant about why on my Livejournal blog a while ago, which I shared to Quixiotic, when we were discussing films. But there was something about this one that caught me. I think I completely missed the potential Lolita aspect, will be intriguing to look out for that when I get around to watching it again.

    Oddly, this reminded me of another hitman action film that I adore and I also consider a classic, “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai”. There’s something very gracious and gentle about Ghost Dog’s character, and I think that’s one reason I loved it so much. Well worth popping on a “to see” list if you’ve not already watched it.


    July 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    • To be fair it’s not a huge theme in the US version, there are only hints of it left. And I might be a little oversensitive about it. Overall it’s a wonderful, wonderful movie – despite the fact that it’s action.

      I haven’t seen that movie, so I’d better put it up on my to-see-list. Thanks for the idea!


      July 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm

  4. When movie is really good, genre and age doesn’t matter. Léon is such an example for me


    July 30, 2011 at 10:10 am

    • I think the key is that Leon in the end is more about the humans than the action that takes place.


      July 31, 2011 at 12:16 am

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