I've Loved You So Long (12A)
Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Sep 23 2008This is a jailbreak movie, if not in the usual sense: Juliette (Kristin Scott Thomas, displaying her fluent French) has served her time and left prison in the legal manner; but the gravity of her crime, the bitter response of her husband and family, and 15 years in jug have all ensured that ordinary freedoms mean little to her. Léa (Elsa Zylberstein), the much younger sister taught by her parents to consider herself an only child, takes her in, and French director Philippe Claudel’s touching film follows the gradual breaking down of hard-won defences and the shy beginning of trust.
Léa’s husband is hostile; their two small adopted daughters are sweet but poignant reminders of what Juliette has lost. But if these characters – and a couple of interested men – drive the expected prodigal daughter narrative, it is the contrast between stately, closed Juliette and Léa herself, with her jittery determination to be loved, that bring the film to life. It takes a gutsy first-time writer-director to make a film so understated: ‘I’ve Loved You So Long’ takes tiny steps like a newly released prisoner. But Claudel understands that his drama lies in letting two superb actresses build their characters, forge their relationship and examine their grief. The reveal isn’t the point; Scott Thomas joining the land of the living is. Still, there is a reveal, so in deference to Claudel’s wish to have his prison gruel and eat it, I’m not going to divulge Juliette’s crime.
Author: Nina Caplan