I've Loved You So Long (France; 115 min.)

directed by: Philippe Claudel
starring: Kristin Scott Thomas, Elsa Zylberstein, Serge Hazanavivius, Laurent Grévill, Jean-Claude Arnaud
Il y a longtemps que je t'aime

Bruce says: "It is always startling to find an actor who one respects but never would consider brilliant turn in one of the best performances in recent memory. Such is the case with Kristen Scott Thomas. Coincidentally I saw her on stage in Chekhov’s “The Seagull” just prior to seeing her in I’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG. On stage, her performance was one of the most carefully controlled, over-the-top efforts I’ve ever witnessed. On screen her performance is nuanced and extraordinarily understated. What an awesome range.

"Juliette (Kristin Scott Thomas) has been in prison for fifteen years. She is now a parolee and her sister Léa (Elsa Zylberstein) is the one who picks her up and takes her to the home she shares with her husband Luc (Serge Hazanavivius) and two children. 'You’re not wearing my gifts,' Léa observes. Later Léa tells Juliette that she did not write to her in prison because according to their parents, “You no longer existed.” The sisters are clearly off to a bad start at the moment when they most need to steer clear of obvious pitfalls. Starting a new life is painful. Juliette must redevelop her people skills. As Juliette attempts to assimilate she falls into one trap after another. A prospective employer jovially asks Juliette why she was in prison, she blurts out a painfully honest answer. 'Get out,' the man yells. Her parole officer wants to talk about his own problems rather than dwell on her progress. Michael, a friend of Luc and Léa’s, wants to get Juliette to open up to him. 'Please don’t. I’m not there yet.' Luc does not want to leave Juliette alone with the children because he doesn’t trust her. She also has to deal with gaps in her past. She learns her father has died of cancer and her mother is in a nursing home, her awareness destroyed by Alzheimer’s. Léa remains supporting and caring while ignoring Juliette’s outbursts and withdrawals plus the objections of friends and husband that Juliette is disrupting her household.

"Facts about Juliette’s life and crime emerge as the film progresses. There is one false note in the film involving Juliette’s irrational behavior around the time she committed her crime. In my opinion, that can be forgiven since I’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG is a otherwise a beautiful character study. This slight plot idiosyncrasy does not change the impact of the film, at least not for me. Elsa Zylberstein is remarkable as the much younger sister who longs to recreate the relationship that was taken away from her when the sister she idolized was sent to prison. 5 cats"

Michael says: "I’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG was the film that I was hoping THE WRESTLER could be.  If that seems like a strange statement, I suppose it is.  But this is what independent and international films do so well that most American films can’t seem to.  They focus on people, lives, relationships, without having to create bigger than life drama.  The drama in I’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG, and there is plenty, doesn’t seem heightened or false… it’s the drama of life; the life that we all must live.

"Kristen Scott Thomas has received a lot of acclaim for her riveting portrayal of Juliette, a woman emerging from a 15 year stint in prison and having to face life once again.  She deserves it.  It’s a layered, nuanced performance that she delivers in spades, from her vacant, empty stare at the film’s opening, to the sudden realization that she has returned to life as the film closes.  Also terrific is Elsa Zylberstein as Juliette’s sister Léa,, who weathers Juliette’s storms, so eager to be there for her sister who she thought lost over a decade ago.  Big kudos go to Philippe Claudel, the first-time director of the film which he also wrote.  The pacing is lovely, the slow-burn storyline is gripping, and his touch is light enough, yet self-assured to guide the viewer effortlessly through both the mystery and the murky emotions.  The scene where Juliette finds out where her parole officer has gone hit me like a brick… I’m pretty sure I exclaimed something, and upon reflection, it wasn’t surprising, and yet I was completely taken by surprise.  Bravo to all involved!  5 cats"


Barbara says: "I know there isn’t much time before voting but if you can see this film, please do.  Kristen Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein are amazing in their respective roles.

"I loved everything about the film.  5 cats"

Toni responds: "The only thing I had a hard time with fully believing was that nothing was done for the 15 years the main character was in prison after learning more by the end of the film; however, she may have had her reasons for staying.

"The hair/makeup folks did a great job on making Kristen Scott Thomas look very plain and her acting was amazing.  You forgot it was her and it was not over the top acting like with Sally Hawkins but more subdued and quiet with much seen with just facial expressions and saying little until the outburst 2/3 into the film (trying not ruin the film for those who have not seen it).  Elsa’s acting was also quite good; she also has a good breaking point scene.  I think that most could identify with closeness and distance between the 2 sisters in the film.

"On the fence between 4.5 and 5 cats for this one"

Barbara responds: "I do agree about the ambiguity of why nothing else came into play either during her trial or her 15 years in prison but I could identify, as a mother, why she wouldn’t care because it felt as though her life had no meaning."

Vicki says: "5 cats for me too - somehow I missed the film when it was in theaters and on demand - it was so well directed and acted - glad I caught it in time for voting."