At this meeting we will be screening the 1995 film Léon: The Professional
Mathilda (played by 13 year-old Natalie Portman), a twelve-year old New York girl, is living an undesirable life among her half-family. Her father stores drugs for two-faced cop Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman). Only her little brother keeps Mathilda from breaking apart. One day, Stansfield and his team take cruel revenge on her father for stretching the drugs a little, thus killing the whole family. Only Mathilda, who was out shopping, survives by finding shelter in Léon’s apartment in the moment of highest need. Soon, she finds out about the strange neighbour’s unusual profession – killing – and desperately seeks his help in taking revenge for her little brother. Léon (Jean Reno), who is completely unexperienced in fatherly tasks, and in friendships, does his best to keep Mathilda out of trouble – unsuccessfully.
Léon: The Professional is written and directed by Luc Besson, who’s eclectic career includes the stylish science fiction film The Fifth Element, the spy drama Nikita, and the biopic on Aung San Suu Kyi, The Lady. It has to be said, though, that he does seem to have a slight obsession with assassins.
You can read Roger Ebert’s review here (and I think he misses the point of why Mathilda is so young) and you can view the trailer below.
Some trivia: this is Natalie Portman’s first feature film. Jean Reno’s character Leon is actually the same character he plays in Besson’s previous film, Nikita.
This film has been released under a number of titles in different regions. It is also known as Léon, and just The Professional.
This film is rated MA.