“Leon: the Professional” is a strange, humorous and at the same time full of emotional tension story about unusual relation between a 12-years-old girl and a professional assassin. Luc Besson creates a movie that balances between the schemes of a tale about forbidden love and of narration about growing up. What’s important, he deconstructs both and he builds a story that cannot be simply closed in any of traditional narrative frames. His movie is weird and its atmosphere sometimes becomes unbearable and absurd. It’s should be surprising as the whole action starts from a scene when a little girl, Mathilda (Natalie Portman) observes her family being killed in a very grotesque way that reminds of aesthetics of Tarantino’s movies.
The main character of Besson’s movie, Leon (Jean Reno), defines his profession as “cleaning up”. When people ask him what he does for living, he starts to talk about dealing with mess. He doesn’t lie – cleaning becomes a very handy metaphor for killing; especially, when you annihilate the bad guys with dirty hands and smelly minds. The director uses a very interesting trick – he constructs a good character from a scheme of an objectively bad figure. That’s why we can say that he refers to the tradition of old gangster cinema – its audience was supposed to like the gangsters because they were presented as good people with some bad experiences from the past.
Leon is an outsider, who hides a soul of a fragile philosopher under the mask of indifferent, cold guy. His schematic, monotonic life changes when he meets Mathilda. A girl wants to learn how to kill to avenge her brutally murdered family. Seemingly asexual relation becomes a strange mixture of love, desire, and hate. The director balances on the edge of perversion, but he doesn’t cross the line – that’s why his movie is so interesting, frapping, and unpredictable.
“Leon: the Professional” is not only a half tragic and comic thriller, but also a beautiful story of a man who teaches a lonely orphan that life can be beautiful. Leon is a guide through the world of darkness and grotesque crimes that doesn’t hide from his little friend the absurd cruelty of the world. Nevertheless, his cynicism and scepticism are neither pretentious nor completely nihilistic – that’s why his lessons are as funny as important. For example: that pigs are nicer than people.