Themes of longing and loss, dreamy boys with sad blue eyes and their unlikely, chain-smoking friends/lovers have long been mainstays of LGBT cinema and, in this area, Departure does not disappoint. However, it does these things both well and differently.
In rural France, Elliot (Alex Lawther) – the dreamy, military-jacket wearing poet – and his mother, Beatrice (Juliet Stevenson) are packing up their holiday home to sell. With his parents’ marriage on its last legs, Elliot begins to seek solace away from the house, in the nearby village where he spots bold, brash Clement. The two strike up a friendship, though (on Elliot’s end at least) it becomes something far deeper.
Melancholy, delicate and breathtakingly shot, the film is self-aware of its nature: even Clement points out that Elliot is a bit of a cliché. What saves it from being a well-worn tale is that this is not only Elliot’s story. As much as the film is about Elliot’s journey, exploring his sexuality and sense of self, it’s Beatrice’s story too. With the loss of her marriage, Beatrice is left shattered, questioning herself and her decisions.
Juliet Stevenson is on good form, while Alex Lawther continues to impress, and the two have great, believable chemistry. Phénix Brossard is fine as broody Clement, though he’s vastly overshadowed by his co-stars.
A promising debut from British director Andrew Steggall, and certain to become an LGBT classic, Departure is a true work of art and is not to be missed.
Departure does not have a UK release date yet.