Time to Leave is great-looking film, and the first five minutes of it are tons of fun. Romain (Melvil Poupaud) is a foxy French photographer snapping pictures of hot foreign models, and everyone is well dressed and beautiful. Call me shallow, but I was into it. And then we find out that Romain has a malignant brain tumor and that he's probably going to die soon, and that the next 80 minutes of the film will consist of this vain, unappealing person grappling with his mortality. Well, fuck.
When Romain learns the news about his condition, his first response is to lash out at those around him: first his sister, to whom he is inexplicably cruel, and then his lover, who he dumps with little explanation. He visits his free-spirited grandmother, played by Jeanne Moreau, and takes comfort in the fact that she too will be dying soon; then, slowly, he begins to come to terms with his imminent death. This coming to terms is represented by Romain being slightly more civil to the people around him until—finally—he dies... on the beach... as the sun is setting. (I did not make that up.)
Jeanne Moreau is the highlight of the film, namely because her formidable face transcends the terse, unenlightening script. Though the film stays visually compelling, it's slow as hell—watching a pretty gay Frenchman slowly die doesn't sound like fun, does it? Sure, it's not supposed to be fun. But it's not clear what the film is supposed to be. It's not emotionally affecting, nor does it offer any insight into mortality or love or... well, anything, really. Time to Leave is a vapid, self-absorbed little film—trés chic on the surface, but bereft of any real substance.