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3 reviews, 2 user ratings

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I've Loved You So Long
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by William Goss

"Girl A"
4 stars

Juliette went away fifteen years ago, to prison, and now she’s out, a barely breathing ghost of a woman, potentially rehabilitated and most certainly harboring a secret as to the exact nature of her crime. If that weren’t enough to reel one in to Philippe Claudel’s character study, 'I’ve Loved You So Long', then the fact that Kristin Scott Thomas portrays her with the most subtle grace ought to do the trick.

As Juliette, Scott Thomas offers the saddest eyes and smallest smiles as she attempts to reintegrate into society. Her doting sister, Lea (Elsa Zylberstein), takes her in, to the chagrin of husband Luc (Serge Hazanavicius) and curiosity of their adopted children (Lise Segur plays the eldest). They suddenly have themselves a new aunt, and yet one who has trouble landing a job or making new friends. She’d rather stay in the car, she’d rather stay at home, at first anyway, but sure enough, she eventually ventures out, whether to visit her peculiar parole officer, have a peaceful swim alongside her sis, or endure an unexpectedly awkward dinner party.

In English, or even in French but without Scott Thomas, all this ponderous melodrama might’ve been too sappy or slow (or it might’ve ended up bearing an uncanny resemblance to John Crowley’s similar, and similarly powerful, Boy A). Fortunately though, Scott Thomas is there indeed, and she keeps us fixated on Juliette’s behavior in the quietest ways. When she does let loose, there’s no grand gesture or sweeping redemption or shocking revelation in store – it’s merely a moment of cathartic confession that wouldn’t pack nearly the same punch had it not been preceded by her delicate building of sympathy and balance of secrets. It’s a climax that relies more on the performance than the plot for its effectiveness, and the film as a whole is the better for it.

Writer/director Claudel wrenches equally understated performances out of the rest of his ensemble, particularly Zylberstein, and Jean-Louis Aubert’s quietly guitar strumming often complements the proceedings with equal grace, but the best anyone can really say for all involved is that they stay out of Scott Thomas’ way. 'I’ve Loved You So Long' concerns itself with whether or not we can live with Juliette for all that she's done, whether or not family and friends can live with Juliette, and most of all, just how Juliette can live with herself, and truth be told, it’s a fascinating burden to watch Scott Thomas bear.

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originally posted: 12/27/08 12:22:38
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Chicago International Film Festival For more in the 2008 Chicago International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/06/09 Bert Kaplan this is a good, sad, beautiful movie 5 stars
3/17/09 Sevarian Superb acting in a powerful film 5 stars
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  24-Oct-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 03-Mar-2009


  DVD: 03-Mar-2009

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