Time to Leave Francois Ozon

Why is Francois Ozon the best distributed of all French directors? Hardly a year goes by before the auteur, who’s a talented drawing room dramatist but hardly the stuff of legend, cranks one out to the applause of North American film companies. Time to Leave, his latest epic masterwork, once again demonstrates both the plusses and minuses that make him an art house darling. Melvil Poupaud plays a gay fashion photographer who’s been diagnosed with brain cancer. He has about three months to live (maybe a little more, maybe a little less) and so he has to figure out how to put his affairs in order. His decision to keep the information to himself (save for his grandmother, grand dame Jeanne Moreau) is the tension that drives the movie, as he first lashes out then attempts reconciliations to the bafflement of his family and lover. One can’t fault Ozon for his dramaturgy — the film is seamless and well observed, even if there are only two scenes that physically suggest that the hero has a terminal illness. Even a subplot in which the childless Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi suggests that our hero become a surrogate father doesn’t creak the way it might in an American melodrama. Still, the movie is all one level of story from which it never wavers and there aren’t the stylistic flourishes or big questions that mark Claire Denis or Olivier Assayas’s work. I suppose I shouldn’t punish the movie for being something it isn’t but Ozon is intelligent enough to push his movies further, and the fact that he doesn’t will keep him in the bourgeois realist ghetto that others have transcended. This keeps him commercial but also means that something is missing from his work. Extras include a "making of” clip, a deleted scenes reel (both unsubtitled) and a photo gallery. (Seville)