For years, I had always heard that Natalie Portman did a great job in a movie called Leon (a.k.a. “The Professional”).  Despite the fact that it sounded interesting, this was another movie that it took me a while to get around to seeing.  I had already seen her in Beautiful Girls (perhaps my first exposure to her), and I knew she was talented.

What I found was a very well crafted, touching movie with three great performances:

– Natalie Portman, as a cigarette-smoking 12 year old girl who is orphaned when the rest of her family is killed in a situation involving drug trafficking

– Jean Reno, as a meticulous, professional killer who gives the young girl a home and a sense of purpose as she begs him to help her take revenge

– Gary Oldman, as a man involved in her parents’ death

Now that I’ve spoiled the first 20 minutes for you, there’s only two hours left.

Aside from an awkward side-plot, it was a great film with seriously deep characters.  It’s definitely a movie with plenty of violence, some of which is slightly disturbing.

Favorite scenes:

– the roof-top lesson

– impressions

– Gary Oldman’s first scene in the hallway

– the penultimate scene in the movie in the apartment building (the final scene being at the school as something of an epilogue)

After watching the special features, it seems that the writer created this movie, especially the main “Leon” character, after working with Jean Reno in La Femme Nikita, which has now been added to my list of movies to watch.

As a bonus, I found this fun behind the scenes picture on the internet.

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