Leon: The Professional.
Ugh. A masterpiece built on a very shaky foundation. I'd love to love this movie. All the elements are here. Slick editing and camerawork. Compelling performances (even if Oldman leaps gleefully over the top every time he's on screen. It tires.) A certain poetic brutality going hand in hand with flickering humanity. But, with the story, Besson seems to be concerned mostly with declaring and defending his own improprieties. He exploits Mathilda as a character and Portman as a child actress. It is all the more upsetting because he had all the necessary ingredients to do something different. Leon and Mathilda, both in their own ways immature and in the wasteland of lost innocence, could have had a bond much closer to a unique paternal/fraternal one. Sure, Mathilda is on the verge of puberty, but any emotional confusion on her part could have been dealt with subtly, like when she juts out her shoulder to Leon at the start of the film, or when she changes channels from cartoons to the news later in the film, and then resolved in a non-problematic way. And I rather like how Besson has Mathilda want to live Leon's life, but then having her change her mind since Leon had been inspired by her to want to live a normal life. But, having Mathilda dance and dress seductively for Leon and the camera, having her publicly declare Leon is her lover, and having her walk around in his underwear all leave little room for any less damning interpretation of Besson's intentions.
Plus, he had an underage girlfriend himself at the time, and cast her in the movie as a prostitute or something. Classy.
Anyway, on the strength of the filmmaking, 3/4, and that's being too kind.
That is more like it. I think only racing fans can truly appreciate how great this one is. Re-watching, I can fault the rather slow pace, particularly at the beginning, but that does not change the fact that racing has never been put to the screen as accurately as this.