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Leo

3.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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(May 18, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

For a class assignment, Leo, a troubled young boy, begins writing to Stephen (Fiennes), a convicted felon in prison. Through their letters, Stephen has a lifeline to the outside world and Leo finds fatherly strength and guidance as he struggles with his mother's (Shue) tragic past. When released from prison, Stephen embarks on a journey to help the boy and perhaps in the process, he can redeem himself. On his way, some co-workers (Shepard and Unger) help him while others (Hopper) stand hin his way.

Special Features

None.

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: Multiple Formats, 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: Alchemy / Millennium
  • DVD Release Date: May 18, 2004
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001I2BVM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,982 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Leo" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Butts HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 16, 2005
Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
Director Mehdi Norowzian and screenwriters Amir and Massy Tajedin have constructed a tale based loosely on characters from James Joyce's ULYSSES and the result is this rather strange but beguiling film, LEO. Set in the dank and humid South the film runs seemingly parallel stories: Mary Bloom (Elizabeth Shue) is a frustrated academician housewife who has moved to the South with professor husband Ben (Jake Weber) and daughter. When the nosey ladies of the town suggest that Ben has had an affair with a student, Mary is incredulous, but in her altered state of mind has a sexual encounter with a young man who is painting her house. Ben forces Mary to understand that he is innocent, Mary discovers she is pregnant, and Ben and her daughter drive off on a simple errand and are both killed in an auto accident. Flash forward a couple of times and we find Mary drowning her 'guilt' in liquor, having given birth to a son (Leopold - or Leo as he becomes when played by actor Davis Sweat) who she ignores as the misbegotten lovechild from her indiscretion. She has maintained an unhealthy relationship with the house painter, and together they emotionally and physically abuse the child Leo. This `family unit' will have is consequences.

Parallel to this story is the life of a convicted felon Stephen (Joseph Fiennes) who is in a nearby prison and to whom young Leo has written a letter, fulfilling a school assignment. Stephen is released from prison and spends his time - when not employed by the local café where behind the counter misdeeds occur daily between waitress Caroline (Deborah Unger) and rascal Horace (Dennis Hopper) - writing letters to Leo.
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