Departure full movie review - In the midst of packing up the summer home his parents have sold, a boy meets the guy of his dreams.
Characters & Story
Elliot (Alex Lawther)
It isn't known how old Elliot is, but what is known is that he is on the edge of a discovery. There are feelings yet explored that are haunting this young poet. This unquenched desire he can slightly put into words but has no one to see if they are comfortable or translate well into actions. That is until the discovery of Clément (Phénix Brossard). A Parisian boy who, like Elliot, is on some form of holiday due to the shift in life his parents are growing through. They don't bond quickly, nor perhaps easily, but slowly but surely they grow close enough to see if perhaps the words Elliot writes about, the dreams and things he ponders, can comfortably be acted out. Much less with another boy.
Beatrice (Juliet Stevenson)
Her marriage is very trying. I mean, she tries with Philip (Finbar Lynch) but knows that there is only but so much she can do. Hence why, to cope and compensate for the failings of their marriage, they buy houses. Yet that isn't working anymore so rather than keep their summer home they are going to sell it. Pack away many of the things they have collected and sell. But after using houses and things as support beams for their marriage, it is questionable if removing one won't meant the marriage won't fall apart.
An Imperfect Love Story
I'm the type who always enjoys a good love story and there is nothing better than one which takes it slow, doesn't try to force itself, and deals with the road bumps which come from one person trying to integrate into another's life. Much less become accepted in their personal space. But add in LGBT teens, and things becoming ever the more complicated. Especially when they both aren't necessarily out nor fully comfortable with who they are and what that means when interacting with other people. To me, while Lawther did seem a bit off his game at times, the end result is a love story which is imperfect, but quite darling.
On The Fence
The Awkwardness of Youth
Coming of age tales, especially of the LGBT variety, are difficult to execute. Part of the reason is that someone, usually far removed from the age of the characters, has to figure out a way to represent what it means to be young and question things without bringing too much of their current self, the person who has been there and done that. Which I won't claim writer/ director Andrew Steggall did perfectly, especially when it comes to Elliot. For while he does mask Elliot's pretentiousness with him having conversations in an unfamiliar tongue and by saying he is a writer in the making; at the same time, something feels unreal about Elliot. Like he is more of an idea crafted and moving about like a puppet than a living and breathing human being.
What I mean is, as Elliot pursues discovering Clément and his sexuality, the awkwardness expected clashes with either the writing or the current abilities of Lawther. Leaving you with an almost robotic personality you can't pin down as either a problem or simply Elliot's personality.
The Sad Mother
Unfortunately for Stevenson, her character has to compete with a love story as Beatrice's life goes down the drain. Something we are provided enough details of to say we know the why, when, and how but, again, something feels off. Be it because Beatrice's story is tried and true so it pales in comparison to Elliot's or maybe, like with Lawther, the personality of the character just isn't easy to connect to so getting fully immersed is difficult.
Overall: On The Fence (Home Viewing)
Focusing solely on Elliot's story, you have something beautiful in itself, though slightly familiar if you are used to seeing LGBT romance films featuring teens. However, there is this awkwardness which goes beyond youthful discovery and spreads to the main cast. Making it where as much as everyone has something compelling going on when it comes to their relationship with a significant other or parent, it is like hearing a low but irritating noise while trying to read. Does it necessarily keep you from the task at hand? No. But it is a big enough distraction to keep you from fulling losing yourself in the activity.