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Leo (2002)

Joseph Fiennes , Elisabeth Shue , Mehdi Norowzian  |  R |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Joseph Fiennes, Elisabeth Shue, Sam Shepard, Justin Chambers, Dennis Hopper
  • Directors: Mehdi Norowzian
  • Writers: Amir Tadjedin, Massy Tadjedin
  • Producers: Amir Yazdi, Derek Roy, Erica August, J. David Williams, Jonathan Karlsen
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Millennium
  • DVD Release Date: May 18, 2004
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001I2BVM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,243 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Leo" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

After 33 years, Stephen is released from prison. While incarcerated, he had been writing to and receiving letters from a young boy, Leopold Bloom. Leo is having a number of problems at home where he lives with his mother, Mary, who sees him as nothing b

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOTEWORTHY SLEEPER April 16, 2005
Director Mehdi Norowzian artfully guides LEO into the realms of cinematic genius. Often using windows and rectangular images to frame his actors, he brings us a quiet, penetrating, and artful tale of a young boy and the renaissance of a young man. Presented with a dual storyline concerning a little boy and a man just released from prison, Norowzian weaves the two storylines flawlessly, and patient viewers will be rewarded with how the storylines relate. Joseph Fiennes is marvelous as (...), the murderer who has been corresponding with an 11 year old boy named Leo (played beautifully by newcomer Davis Sweatt). Upon his release he takes a job at Vic's Diner, wherein he meets the born again owner (a superb Sam Shepard), a waitress we don't know much about but come to identify with (Deborah Kara Unger), and the nasty co-owner and customer, the fiendishly wrought Dennis Hopper. Meanwhile, Fiennes is writing a novel centering on the correspondence he has shared with Leo. The parallel storyline features Elisabeth Shue in a dramatically different role---the wife of a college professor who has surrendered her own goals to raise their daughter. Shue is brilliant as she goes from a seemingly sweet mother to an alcoholic, emotionally abusive one. She is told her professor husband (the marvelous Jake Weber) is having an affair, so she retaliates with a dalliance with the hunky painter (a smarmy but effective Justin Chambers). She reconciles with Weber, but a fateful errand for cold cream brings tragic results and the now pregnant Shue blames herself for their tragic end, resulting in her emotional detachment from her newborn baby boy whom she regards as punishment for her infidelity.
LEO is sometimes frustrating in its complexity, but as the movie unfolds, we are given both a poignant and disturbing look at maternal love, filial devotion, and the sad case of how society can dictate how one reacts. It is a very original movie, well done and worth your time.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Southern Sleeper March 10, 2005
Leo is, quite simply, a masterpiece of filmmaking by a first time director. Mehdi Norowzian does a remarkable job, surrounded by technical artists of the highest order and further aided by a cast that could not possibly be bettered.

Norowzian takes elements of what could be a classic, campy southern gothic tale, and gives it a fine "Euro-treatment" - a more noticeable and welcome change over the last decade or so in American independents. (American director, Tag Purvis achieves a similar evocation of a mysterious South in "Red Dirt")

Norowzian takes this screenplay loosely populated with characters from Joyce's "Ulysses" and bends them into a story seamlessly reaching back and forth through decades - racing, hurtling towards its inevitable and beautiful collisionary conclusion.

As Stephen, Joseph Fiennes turns in a performance that can be called nothing less than amazing. Even when silent (which is much of the film) Fiennes' presence is masterful, and cuts to the soul as a man released from a wrongful prison sentence.

Elizabeth Shue is harrowing and wears Mary's vulnerability like a badge of shame as she sinks into hopeless alcoholism and abusive neglect of her son, Leo.

As Leo, watch out for David Sweat, a young actor who inhabits the title role with an intensity and though fiercely intelligent, devoid entirely of preciousness or precosciousness.

Strong performances come also from Sam Shepherd, Dennis Hopper, and Deborah Unger who gives an master class in acting through facial expressions and body language providing myriad insights into what on the surface appears to be a minor role, but whose character inhabits all the qualities of the central characters and who's ultimate crisis serves as the catalyst for the story's denouement.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sterling Performances March 22, 2005
"Leo" is intense & highly dramatic. Mehdi Norowzian has his feature directorial debut with this small low-budget picture. However, low budget does not mean low on artistry. Norowzian had been nominated for an Oscar in 1999 for his live action short film "Killing Joe" and has had an extensive career in commercials as the DVD extra interview attests. He does an excellent job of weaving the two story lines together as the audience increasingly becomes aware of how they interrelate. 1998 was Joseph Fiennes' banner year with both "Elizabeth" and "Shakespeare In Love" being critical and box-office successes. His portrayal of Martin Luther in 2003's "Luther" was also intense and excellent. As Stephen who is released from prison for murder, we come to know the man who was emotionally abused by his mother and yet who is highly intelligent and has his own sense of morality. We come to see him as both victim and hero, a quite ranging performance. Elizabeth Shue takes on some amazingly complex roles such as the prostitute in "Leaving Las Vegas" that earned her best actress Oscar nomination in 1995. She has also appeared with Kevin Bacon in "The Hollow Man" in 2000 and with Robert DeNiro & Dakota Fanning in this year's "Hide & Seek." As Leo's mother Mary Bloom, we see her as an attractive although emotionally damaged woman who cannot control her own grief without taking it out on her son. As young Leopold, Davis Sweat does a nice job in his film debut. Playwright Sam Shepard does an excellent job as the restaurant owner Vic with his own private demons. His candid interview in the DVD tells us how all of these actors took these roles at scale & were in it for the artistry, not the bucks. He swings a mean baseball bat! Read more ›
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