Departure (directed by Andrew Steggall) is at times intense, at times understated, but always a pleasure to watch. That’s thanks mainly to its three central leads, played by Juliet Stevenson (Beatrice), Alex Lowther (her son Elliot) and breakout French actor Phenix Brossard (Clement). Their interaction drives this British drama, at the centre of which are themes of alienation within the family unit and what it means to ‘love’.
Indeed the three characters find themselves almost locked in a curious love triangle that never quite blossoms. While Elliot is only starting to discover his sexual identity, his mother feels isolated and ignored by his often absent father (who has a role to play in the latter part of the film). As Clement enters into their situation, they find someone else on whom to focus their attention.
There’s a strangely comforting quality to Departure’s cinematography; it’s set in the French countryside, at Beatrice and Elliot’s summer holiday home. They’re preparing to sell the house and spend much of the movie in the midst of packing; this act itself becoming a source of tension as the story unfolds.
The film does a great job of contrasting what would usually be seen as a safe haven – the family home – with the fear of seeing it inevitably break up, and it’s fascinating to see the different ways in which each character reacts.
Overall Departure may not be the flashiest film to appear in cinemas in 2016, but its insight into what leads to relationship breakdowns, and an honest approach to sexuality, make it an intriguing one worth seeking out.
7 / 10