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Old 09-04-2015, 08:58 AM
Malthus is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Toronto
Posts: 18,184
Originally Posted by Smid View Post
Not to make you uncomfortable, but Portman was 13 on the year of the release of this, so was probably 12 when filming. I always viewed her as being that age, so young that there's no ambiguity.

It was to me, always about a very young girl pretending to be older. And having a crush for an adult while young enough for desire, but too young to know what reality is like.

Beautiful Girls was two years later.
Yup, she was 12.

In the movie, she claims to Leon that she is 18, but it is pretty clear he doesn't actually believe her (though he tries to pass her off as 18 to his "surrogate father" Tony - and it is very clear Tony doesn't believe it - his response was something like "oh, really? ". At the end of the movie, Tony expressly refers to her as being 12, as in "I don't have a job for a 12 year old").

The heart of the movie, in my opinion at least, is the odd-couple relationships between Leon and Mathilda on the one hand, and Leon and Tony on the other. These are steeped in ambiguity, I think deliberately designed to make the audience uneasy - it drives both the drama and a lot of the black comedy. People have spent a lot of time arguing over their relations.

My own opinion is that Leon/Mathilda is, basically, a platonic romance. Leon has no sexual interest whatsoever in Mathilda; she claims to have such an interest in Leon - but her interest is simply gleaned from the media portrayals of such relations (specifically, her sister's magazines): she has no real idea about the difference between love and sex, being so young and so mentally scarred. In fact, one of the subtexts througout the movie is that these characters form their opinions and actions based on the media and grim surroundings.

From Leon's POV, he starts by simply wanting her gone, but gradually comes to realize that she provides the centre his life lacked. He's not exactly a father-figure, because mentally he's a kid himself - witness his relationship with Tony, who is like an (exploitive) father to Leon.