I've Loved You So Long (Il Y a Longtemps Que Je T'aime)
Novelist and screenwriter Philippe Claudel makes his directorial debut with this patient and sensitively shot family drama. Plainly-dressed, middle-aged Juliette (Kristin Scott Thomas) comes to stay in Nancy in north east France with her younger sister Lea (Elsa Zylberstein), who already lives with her husband, two adopted children and mute father-in-law. It turns out that Lea and Juliette haven’t seen one another for fifteen years whilst the latter has been serving a prison sentence.
I’ve Loved You So Long observes both the gradual emotional rapprochement between the two adult siblings and the efforts of the reticent Juliette to rehabilitate herself in the wider world. This former doctor has to find a job, meet regularly with her parole officer, and deal with the curiosity of the locals. Claudel lets us off the hook by explaining the motives for her crime, and overdoes the confinement metaphor – every supporting character, whether it’s an Alzheimer’s suffering matriarch or a bereaved male colleague, is presented as being trapped in their own metaphorical prison. But the filmmaker does make intelligent use of his provincial settings, and the lead actresses give impressively subtle performances.
GFT, Glasgow and Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri 26 Sep.