Recently, PJ and I watched I’ve Loved You So Long, a French movie starring Kristen Scott Thomas that we had wanted to see for the past several months. I thought that Scott Thomas was going to be a real contender for the Best Actress Oscar this year, but it turned out that she wasn’t. I just have to say up front: she was robbed!

Here’s the trailer:

Scott Thomas plays Juliette, a woman who has just been released from prison after serving a 15-year sentence for murdering her young son. With no where else to go, she moves in temporarily with her younger sister, who barely remembers her, since their parents pretended that Juliette didn’t exist once she was charged with the crime. The movie follows Juliette’s reintegration into society and explores the sisters’ relationship as they get to know one another for the first time as adults.

I haven’t read any reviews of this movie, but my vague sense is that it isn’t for everyone. It’s understated and rather somber in tone, and Scott Thomas spends most of the movie barely speaking to anyone else. She also has the washed-out look of an actress not wearing makeup. In a way, it reminds me of Rachel Getting Married, a movie I ended up loving for its brand of somewhat gritty realism. I’ve Longed You So Long has a similar feel to it that I really like.

Scott Thomas is amazing in this movie. On the one hand, she’s so beautiful that one can’t help but enjoy watching her on screen for an hour-and-a-half. On the other hand, her character is so resistant to society’s expectations for her that Scott Thomas revels in Juliette’s unlikability. For example, potential employers want her to show remorse and redemption for her crime, for her to have murdered someone who had abused her or who was deserving of death. When she refuses to give them these gestures of remorse, redemption, and justification, they don’t know how to deal with her. It’s a very difficult line that Scott Thomas manages in this movie: making her character unlikable and likable at the same time. She does a great job.

I also liked the meandering feel of the movie’s plot.There is a plot and it does go somewhere, but it isn’t in any hurry to get there. Revelations are slowly made and by the end of the film we have a totally different view of everyone than we had at the beginning. While I can sometimes feel frustrated at films that don’t seem to be going anywhere quickly, this one held my attention and made we want to see what happens to Juliette. I really admired it.

Maybe this just confirms what I’ve been thinking lately: I’m a total sucker for French movies! This is the fifth or sixth one in a row that I’ve seen and loved. I guess I’ll have to start looking for number seven now!

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