director Luc Besson
Ever feel old? Looking at a 12-year old Natalie Portman in a movie made 22 years ago, can make you feel old.
Luc Besson’s Léon or. The Professional was Portman’s first film and she made an impact as the tween-turned-assassin Mathilda. When her family is gunned down by Gary Oldman and crew, she runs to the protection of slow and reserved Léon, Jean Reno, an immigrant hitman who works for Danny Aiello, an Italian gangster/restaurateur.
This comes from Besson’s fecund 1990’s era and generally it’s a pretty fun film. I showed it to my kids, who both enjoyed it. I hadn’t seen it since the 1990’s but always remember liking it.
There is of course more than a little pervy objectifying of Portman as well as her character’s precociousness. It’s played for laughs in a somewhat open-minded European way, but nigglingly creepy nonetheless.
And if anything fresh came of this watching was how in Besson’s New York City, guns and explosions won’t even rouse your neighbors much less draw a crowd. It’s a fantasy that seems more convenient than totally intentional but who knows?