- ‘L__é__on, what exactly do you do for a living?’ - ‘Cleaner’ - ‘You mean you’re a hit man?’ _- ‘Yeah’ _
Léon is an astonishingly original film. Natalie Portman plays Mathilda, a girl of twelve who befriends a milk-drinking hit-man after he rescues her from thugs who are murdering her family. She asks him to teach her the ways of his chosen career to enable her to exact revenge. And, incredibly, he does.
James Cameron, in his DVD commentary for Terminator 2, stated that he didn’t want to portrary Edward Furlong’s character (young John Connor) pointing a gun at anyone during the film, for moral reasons. I never really understood what he was particularly bothered by. In any case, director Luc Besson certainly doesn’t let this stop him investigating the association between youth and violence in this film, and in my opinion adopts a more mature attitude toward it - after all, it’s not like this film doesn’t have morals - you certainly leave it aware that everyone has got their just desserts.
Sadly, it appears that the region 2 version I’ve just watched is not Besson’s ‘version intégrale’, which expands somewhat on some of the more controversial aspects of the film (primarily Mathilda and Léon going on hits together). This is a great shame and the fact that Besson felt the need to do this is a sad reflection on the immature attitude our society still has toward films that encourage us to confront things that are out-of-the-ordinary. Sure, Léon is a largely unrealistic film in many respects, but the relationship between the two main characters is superbly played, couldn’t be more fascinating, and it’s a shame to miss out on the opportunity to see it developed further.