This movie had been on my watch list for a very long time. The Professional, featuring Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, and Jean Reno, is about a professional hitman (Reno), who becomes a guardian for a 12-year old girl (Portman) after her entire family is killed by a corrupt cop (Oldman).
It was a little strange to see the relationship between the Mathilda (Portman) and Leon (Reno), but there was also something strangely charming about it as well. Granted, I’m not a big fan of Portman, but her character’s childlike naivety within a very not child appropriate context was refreshing. Even though Mathilda had been jaded by her experiences, she still had very innocent and naive notions of love and romance. Leon, with his life in solitude and misfortunes in love early in his life, had a certain sense of innocence surrounding his character. This combination (Mathilda and Leon) created an interesting relationship to watch evolve throughout the duration of the movie. The question still stands whether Leon loved Mathilda as a significant other, a child, a younger sister, or any other appropriate category, but it was still moving to see him give his life for Mathilda.
Of course, there were super cheesy camera zooming and dramatic musical cues, but I think that was a by-product of the era of films the movie comes from. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the camera angles and shots for some of the scenes, particularly the scenes in Tony’s restaurant. The scenes in Tony’s restaurant often had a framing feel, with the door to the right of Tony and the wall with the picture frames to the left. I was also really moved by Leon’s death scene, as well as the use of light and dark. As Leon walked towards the outside, light started shining more and more on his face, and then the camera embodied Leon himself, taking a first person view, making the sensation much more real for the viewers; the feeling of being so close to freedom, but falling before getting there, and then getting overwhelmed by the ‘light’ of death. This use of light was kind of analogous, yet quite different, from the light that shined on Mathilda’s face when Leon opened the door, granting her salvation from the men who killed her family. I guess one could think of the light overwhelming Leon in his death was a sort of salvation from the monotonous life he led. I feel like there might be something to be said about the fact that the first night Leon slept in a bed (since he became a hitman) was the day he died; haven’t really thought much about what this could represent or if it even represents anything, but it definitely felt interesting. The day he put his guard down, the day he started living (or accepted life for what it was worth), could both be possible interpretations, but I don’t really know what to make of it.
I really liked Reno’s performance in the movie, but Oldman also did his usual good job. All in all though, it was a really enjoyable cinematic experience. The best I’ve watched in a while actually, in regards to satisfaction at the end of viewing it. I recommend it.