Does “The Professional” Toe The Line With Pedophilia?

The Professional

Anyone willing to argue that Leon: The Professional, flirts with pedophilia might have had a rough childhood or might be in the habit of looking for things that aren’t there. The movie is one of the more underrated among its genre since Jean Reno and Natalie Portman, along with Gary Oldman, made it so great. A quick explanation for those that might not have seen the movie is that Leon, a lone gunman and hired hitman, lives alone and takes on any job he’s given so long as it doesn’t involve women and children, meaning he does have a strong moral code that he adheres to. When a family that he lives down the hall from is murdered by a corrupt DEA agent, played by Gary Oldman, and his men, Mathilda, played by Portman, is the only survivor as she had the good luck to ask Leon if he needed any supplies from the market and was out at the time. It might sound like a sad scene since Mathilda’s entire family was killed, but the only person she’s sad about is her little brother, who was an innocent, unlike the rest of her morally bankrupt family. But upon returning home to see agents moving in and out of her apartment, Mathilda makes her way to Leon’s home, pleading silently with him to let her in. Just when all appears lost he opens the door and lets her in, which is shot in a way that makes it clear that Leon has just become her salvation and protector. But as far as pedophilia goes, nothing even close develops in Leon’s mind as he looks at Mathilda as she is, a kid that has just lost everything and someone that needs protection. Mathilda, on the other hand, has already had a mild crush on Leon for a while at this point, and as she stays with him it continues to develop.

People need to loosen up a bit and think back to when they were young, to remember if maybe, just maybe, there was an adult figure in their life that they had special feelings for or a genuine crush on. Hey, as a junior high student I had a crush on my math teacher, as she was in her late 20s and was gorgeous, but she was all business at work and made it clear that she was the teacher and if we ever needed it, a mentor we could depend on for added help. This is the manner in which Leon looked at Mathilda throughout the movie, and the feelings only deepened in a way that made him even more dangerous since much like a father with their child, at least, how it should be, he became protective of her to such a degree that he took offense to her smoking, hanging out around the wrong boys, and even admonished her about swearing. That doesn’t exactly sound like someone who’s falling in love with a child, but instead someone that’s trying to look out for her best interests. Plus, if one wants any further proof, Mathilda’s crush continued to grow throughout the movie to the point where she did manage to display such feelings in different ways, such as dressing up as Marilyn Monroe for a guessing game and trying to be seductive while Leon had absolutely no clue who she was supposed to be. To his credit, he even looked pretty uncomfortable with the act. Even when she said she felt ‘funny’ while they were laying on the bed, fully-clothed and in no suggestive poses mind you, Leon looked uncomfortable. So no, pedophilia wasn’t an issue in this movie no matter how much people might want to say it was either due to the director, Luc Besson, or their own internal issues.

One of the most important lines in the movie comes when Leon is attempting to help Mathilda escape when the apartment is under siege, and that is “You’ve given me a taste for life.”. Many people could take that many ways, but the fact is that Leon is sending Mathilda away to give her a chance, and he now wants that chance to do something with his life, to be there for someone, and it’s not sexual in the least. The old and tired saying of “Once you have kids you’ll know” is one of those that people get tired of hearing, but the truth of it is buried beneath the monotony since once you love someone more than you love yourself, you’ll do anything to keep them safe and secure, and this is the feeling that Leon had for Mathilda, without any sexual feelings being present. People need to watch the movie again and realize that he rebuffs her every time she decides to show how vulnerable she is, and he does it in a very polite, caring way that some might see as creepy, but others will recognize as a father figure doing his best to keep her on the right track, and simply try to adjust with having a kid in the house.

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