Tuesday, 16 September 2008
I've Loved You (For) So Long
I have just reviewed new cinema release I've Loved You So Long for Issue 70 of French Magazine:
Once every few years, a French film emerges flare-like from the cloying fog of Hollywood PR and big budgets, a film so engrossing and original (Amélie and Hidden spring to mind) that you want to ring all of your friends and tell them to flick Batman the bird and instead turn to arthouse cinema for an “event” outing of equal import, but without the stunts, scraps, hollering and merchandise.
What’s remarkable about I’ve Loved You So Long, however, is that there are no clever and cute editing techniques, or time-bending narratives at work, as with the aforementioned French box-office winners. There’s barely even a plot to speak of, yet the exqusite tension of this exceptional family drama is held through slow revelation, superb use of intermittent music and some exquisite acting by the entire cast. That this film is the debut of writer ClaudePhilippe makes it all the more striking.
Scott Thomas – in what is a surely an Oscar-nominee turn – plays elder sibling Juliette, gaunt and world weary, who emerges from a 15-year hiatus (to disclose why would be churlish here) to stay with her once doting younger sister Léa (Elsa Zylberstein) and her young family.
Oozing frustration, yet showing flashes of wit that make this so much more than a study in self-pity, Juliette’s remoteness at first serves to push away those seeking to understand her. Slowly she must learn to trust and open up, which she does... eventually, explosively. You will not see a more moving and captivating performance this year, or maybe any other.
It's a cracker, as you can tell, but one thing troubles me: the title. Shouldn't it be called I've Loved You For So Long, as it's translated from the French Il y a longtemps que je t'aime? I will bow to your greater linguistic knowledge if you can clear this up for me.