I've Loved You So Long DVD
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Directed by Philippe Claudel
Produced in 2008
Main Language - French
In by far the most challenging role of her career, Kristin Scott Thomas plays Juliette, who, at the very beginning of the film, is picked up from the airport by her younger sister Léa (Elsa Zylberstein) after a long period away. It gradually becomes clear that Juliette has been in prison, and has had scant contact from her estranged family since her incarceration. Although it was at Léa’s invitation that Juliette comes to live with them and their two young, adopted daughters, her brother-in-law hates having her in the house, for reasons that become clear as the nature of Juliette’s crime is revealed.
The film was directed by Philippe Claudel, a celebrated writer in France, here making his cinematic debut. Avoiding flashy camera techniques, Claudel wisely uses a subdued approach, allowing his actors to develop their complex characters. Zylberstein is outstanding as the sister, who yearns to connect in spite of her abhorrence towards Juliette’s crime. In one brilliantly played scene of apparent small talk, it becomes clear that she has subconsciously avoided every aspect of Juliette’s life, and has blocked out even the happy memories of their time together.
But ultimately the laurels go to Scott Thomas. A versatile and fascinating actress, she is quite possibly the most unfairly typecast performer in Britain. An Oscar nomination for The English Patient notwithstanding (and that was over ten years ago) she seems destined to play aristocratic snobs for as long as she works in Britain (most recently in Easy Virtue). Luckily France has come to rescue her from clichéd classiness, casting her in several demanding parts, including roles in Arsène Lupin, Tell No One and here.
Juliette is a difficult woman, who occasionally reveals her crime as a means to shock and disquiet her audience (the reaction at a dinner party she attends is one of the best scenes of the film). Yet the viewer roots for Juliette to succeed in rebuilding her life, thanks to glimmers of warmth that shine through when she is around children or a potential admirer. Scott Thomas plays the more dramatic scenes with heartfelt conviction, yet she never tips over into histrionics. It is an absolute tour-de-force performance that deserves full recognition come award season.
Alex Davidson on 10th December 2008
Author of 231 reviews
Kristin Scott Thomas stars in this acclaimed emotional family drama as Juliette, a woman who returns to live with her younger sister Lea (Elsa Zylberstein) and her family after spending 15 years in prison. Initially, Juliette struggles to re-establish her life in the outside world, but over time, the icy reserve and deep-seated bitterness that have built up during her incarceration begin to soften.
Length: 117 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 widescreen
Cat No: LGD94046
Format: DVD Colour