Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I've Loved You So Long. A-

Juliette (Kristen Scott Thomas) has just finished up a 15 year sentence in prison for murdering her son. Why or how, we're not sure. With very few connections, let alone a home to live in, Juliette goes to stay with her estranged sister Lea (Elsa Zylberstein), her husband Luc, and their two daughters, both of whom have been adopted from Vietnam. Juliette is obviously tormented by her past, but she tries her best to conceal her feelings. Luc is very uncertain about having Juliette living in the house. He's afraid every time she's there alone with the two daughters. The suspense in 'I've Loved you So Long' is subtle but gradual, as we're certain that Juliette will eventually speak out about her past (during her trial she refused to speak, so literally no one knows the circumstances of her crime). Much of the success of 'I've Loved You So Long' lies within the performance from Scott Thomas. Her mere facial expression imply how wavering her feelings are. We can always tell when she's happy, sad, or troubled. Her ever-shifting emotions simply make the movie more realistic. If something comes up that reminds her of the past, she changes. Such as the scene when Lea's daughter is showing Juliette her bedroom. She begins to read Juliette a poem she has written, and suddenly Juliette becomes flustered and even yells at the child. So we know that poetry is somehow connected to her son's death. Then when her friend, one of Lea's colleagues, is showing her an art gallery, he talks about a painting he likes, saying that it is imprisoned in the frame. Juliette flinches, and quickly moves on. It's somewhat startling when we discover that Juliette murdered her son. We can't help but feel for her because she is trying so hard to fit in with society, and yet we're fully aware that this is a convicted killer we're watching. Accompanied with the emotionally powerful narrative is a beautiful score from Jean-Louis Aubert and exceptional cinematography from Jerome Almeras. French cinema has been thriving in recent years. 'I've Loved You So Long,' one of the best films of 2008, is one of the reasons why.

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