Friday, February 27, 2009

I've Loved You So Long (Rhoades)

“I’ve Loved You So Long” Is Murderess’ Mystery

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

There was a state prison in my hometown, where inmates made hand-tooled wallets and leather watch fobs and sold them through the wire fence on Sundays. My father took me to visit one weekend, buying me a leather coin holder. I came to realize the prisoner was a distant relative, paying his debt to society, but not forgotten by his family.

In “I’ve Loved You So Long” (French title: “Il y a longtemps que je t’aime”) – the film that’s currently playing at the Tropic Cinema – we encounter a woman recently released from prison, having served a 15-year term for murder. She comes to live with her younger sister and an assortment of relatives, trying to find her new fit in society.

Kristen Scott Thomas (“The English Patient,” “The Horse Whisperer”) is the paroled murderess Juliette. Elsa Zylberstein is the younger sister Lea, a literature teacher who takes her in. And Serge Hazanavicius, Jean-Claude Arnaud, Lise Ségur and Mouss add to the cast as the husband, his mute father, and adopted Vietnamese daughters.

As she wanders about the house, as silently as a wraith, her sister’s young daughter asks, “Is Auntie Juliette a bit strange?”

Yes, she carries a secret. That her murder victim was her own six-year-old son. A matter-of-fact admission for this shadow of a woman. An embarrassing discomfort for her family.
Although Juliette has been paroled, is she really free? “The worst prison is the death of one’s child,” she says. “You never get out of it.”

But the murder – and the motivation behind it – is merely the backdrop for two sisters trying to reconnect.

“I’ve Loved You So Long” is an impressive film debut by writer and director Philippe Claudel.
But it’s Kristen Scott Thomas to watch. Smoking, telling her story, her face as placid as a death mask. Perhaps the role of her lifetime.
[from Solares Hill]

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