Leon (Jean Reno) is a tortured soul. He lives in squalor and misery, never truly happy or at peace with himself. After all, he is a hitman. He lives quietly from kill to kill, harming no-one whom he has not been paid to assassinate. He is a simplistic, childlike man who lives by his own set of morals but is troubled by them. The one thing he seems to fear above all else is change.
Mathilda (Natalie Portman) is Leon's neighbour. A young girl, she lives with her father, step-mother, half-sister and half-brother. As unhappy as Leon, she lives in awe of the dark stranger, unaware of his true profession. Beaten by her parents and sister, she has abandoned school and instead spends the day watching cartoons and trying to escape from the real world.
When Mathilda's family is brutally murdered by a drug crazed Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman), her only chance for survival is to hide with her neighbour. When she learns of Leon's true identity, she becomes infatuated with both him, and the grim world he inhabits.
This stark portrayal of humanity and inhumanity is produced with the style and finesse that one expects from Luc Besson. In addition, the combined talents of Jean Reno, Natalie Portman and Gary Oldman provide not only an unmatched on-screen chemistry, but also three perfectly created characterisations, the like of which are rarely seen in today's cinema. This film has my personal recommendation of being the best piece of cinema that I know of. I have not seen anything that matches it in terms of intensity or emotion - and believe me, I've looked. I found myself caring for the characters involved, an unique experience in itself. This is not the type of film for a night in with your mates, but nevertheless, it is an unforgettable piece of cinematic history.