Film, Drama
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

A mother and son wrestle with their own personal demons in this France-set drama

It’s set in southern France, but this low-key, bleak film is a very British drama. A mum (Juliet Stevenson) and her teenage son, Elliot (Alex Lawther), are both facing emotional difficulties (her marriage is crumbling; he thinks he’s gay). And both deal with their problems in a very British way, by isolating themselves from each other and occasionally freaking out.

As they prepare to sell the family’s holiday home, mother and son find comfort in Clément (Phénix Brossard), a frustrated Frenchman with issues of his own. But, just as the intrigue of an inter-generational love triangle is temptingly dangled in front of us, it’s whipped away again. Instead, the film stutters on to an unfulfilling finish.

Still, for the most part, it’s subtlety that makes ‘Departure’ work, with a slow suspenseful drip-feed of details surrounding the absence of Elliot’s father. As an aspiring writer who quotes Proust, Elliot is perhaps a little too pretentious to be sympathetic. But Lawther (who played the young Alan Turing in ‘The Imitation Game’) performs with sincerity and plummy charm, while Stevenson’s fragility as his mother is at times frightening to behold. It’s thanks to these performances that ‘Departure’ is a poignant watch, but in places the trite teenage philosophising cancels out the fresh ideas.


Release details

Release date:
Friday May 20 2016
109 mins

Cast and crew

Andrew Steggall
Andrew Steggall
Juliet Stevenson
Alex Lawther
Phénix Brossard
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