The Professional Director Luc Besson Responds to Natalie Portman’s Criticism

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Summary

  • Artistic perspectives evolve with societal changes- Luc Besson defends
    Léon: The Professional
    portrayal, highlighting the importance of adaptation and growth.
  • Portman’s reappraisal of her debut role- Marking a shift in personal reflections on themes of power dynamics and consent.
  • Revisiting
    Léon: The Professional
    – Sparks renewed debates on movie themes amid cultural conversations and entertainment industry evolution.



Director Luc Besson responded to Natalie Portman’s criticism of his 1994 crime thriller, Léon: The Professional. Besson defended his work by highlighting the evolution of perspectives over time.

Léon: The Professional

Leon: The Professional

Release Date
November 18, 1994

Runtime
1hr 51min

Studio
Gaumont, Les Films du Dauphin, Columbia Pictures

Tagline
If you want the job done right, hire a professional.

During an interview with The Playlist, Besson raised a valid point about the fluid nature of societal norms and values. As we grow and experience life, our understanding and interpretation of art, including films, can shift. Portman’s feature film debut as a young actress in the film has continued to spark discussions due to its depiction of a complicated relationship between an older assassin and a preteen girl. Besson stated,


“Are you the same [as you were at] 19 years old, at 25? I mean, my first short film, I was 17. My parents divorced, and they put me in boarding school;
I had no education. I am living 60 kilometers from Paris. I know nothing about life. I don’t know anything about love. I know nothing about anything. And I’m just in love with movies.
So, then you learn, and you go to different countries and start speaking English and meet great people. You’re able to lose and fall in love, then break your heart, and then fall into love again, and you have a child and a normal life.”

What was once seen as groundbreaking or acceptable might now be perceived as problematic. This is particularly true for movies like Léon: The Professional, which delves into themes that are more scrutinized in the current era. Besson further continued,


“So, you always go with society the way it is at the moment. We can always criticize. It’s very hard for me to [look back] like 30, 40, 50 years ago. What’s the point? I don’t understand.
Things change, lots of things change for the better. A few things are worse. And that’s society, in the end. And then we have to adapt.
I’m not the same today at 65, for sure. I have five kids—and I was left alone from zero to basically 14.”


Natalie Portman Revisits Her Role in Léon: The Professional with a Critical Eye


Natalie Portman, now an Oscar-winning actress, recently revisited her role in the film, describing her feelings towards it as “cringey” and admitting to having a “complicated relationship” with the movie. The remarks made by Portman have sparked renewed debates about the movie’s themes, especially considering the #MeToo movement’s impact on reevaluating various elements of the entertainment world. Portman’s changing perspective on the film is a testament to this evolution. As an adult, she views the movie through a different lens, one shaped by her experiences and the broader cultural conversations about power dynamics and consent.

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The debate over Léon: The Professional is emblematic of the broader conversations happening in the film industry and society at large. As for the possibility of a sequel or reboot, Besson’s planned follow-up was shelved, with the script eventually morphing into the movie Colombiana.


Considering the contentious aspects of the original movie, a revival of Léon: The Professional appears improbable in the foreseeable future. The film remains a significant piece of film history, provoking thoughts and discussions among viewers about the intricacies of human interactions and the evolving standards of societal norms.

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