Saturday, January 3, 2009

I've Loved You So Long [Il y a longtemps que je tiaime] (2008)

Kristin Scott Thomas has always been brilliant. One needs only to look at the large spectrum of genres she has tackled, both in English and in French. However, nothing had prepared us for this. I've Loved You So Long often flirts with the danger of the performance swallowing up a film, but thankfully the rest of the cast and the script hold themselves well. It is interesting that two of the best performances this year are those of two polar-opposite characters and depictions: Sally Hawkins's infectious Polly from Happy-Go-Lucky and Ms Thomas's Juliette.

After serving 15 years in prison for murder, Juliette reluctantly moves in with her sister, Lea, who was brainwashed by their parents to forget Juliette even existed. Juliette has to face an external world that is adamant not to let her in and her internal world, which is a tempestuous war zone of conscience. Slowly the reason behind her incarceration peel away in a plot that is surprisingly crisp and efficient for a movie that heavily relies on dialogue. It is a triumph of director Philippe Cladel and the rest of the cast that the revelations aren't meant to be shocking in any way. The audience will probably figure them out way ahead of the heartbreaking finale.

I've Loved You So Long is not only an acting masterclass - it certainly is one - but a brilliant essay on a woman's re-integration into society after being away from it for a generation. It is, without doubt, one of the best movies of the year and it should be acknowledged so come the award season.

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