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I've Loved You So Long (Il Y A Longtempts Que Je T'aime) (12)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner25/09/2008

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 115 mins

Superbly directed, beautifully written and emotionally powerful drama with terrific performances by Kristin Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Philippe Claudel, this powerful French drama stars Kristin Scott Thomas as Juliette, an ex-doctor who's released from prison after serving a 15-year sentence. She's taken in by her estranged sister, Lea (Elsa Zylberstein), a married literature professor with two adopted Vietnamese daughters (Lise Segur and Liliy-Rose).

However, tensions soon emerge due to the nature of Juliette's crime and Lea's husband Luc’s (Serge Hazanavicius) questions whether it's safe for her to be around their children. Meanwhile, as Juliette attempts to find a job and start putting her life back together, she receives support from unexpected sources.

The Good
Kristin Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein are both sensational in the lead roles: Scott Thomas in particular is perfectly cast - her emotionally brittle persona is put to impressive use here, as you're constantly expecting her to snap. In addition, she creates deep sympathy for Juliette, so that we root for her to succeed, even if we're not entirely sure that she can be trusted.

Zylberstein is equally good, delivering a compassionate performance that is extremely moving. There's also strong support from Laurent Grevill (as a colleague of Lea's who guesses Juliette's secret) and Frederic Pierrot, as Juliette's sympathetic probation officer.

The Great
The script is excellent, revealing its secrets gradually and creating extraordinary emotional tension throughout. There are no Hollywood histrionics here; scenes unfold much as they would in real life, with characters making small talk that masks the elephant in the room.

Claudel's direction is excellent, particularly the ways in which the characters' actions and expressions betray their true feelings – Scott Thomas, for example, gives a master class in the dying art of emotionally charged onscreen smoking. As a result, there are several emotionally devastating scenes, most notably Juliette's reunion with her Alzheimers-afflicted mother (Claire Johnston), who had pretended she was dead after her conviction.

Worth seeing?
I've Loved You So Long is a powerfully emotional drama with terrific performances by Scott Thomas and Zylberstein. Highly recommended.

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I've Loved You So Long (Il Y A Longtempts Que Je T'aime) (12)
I've Loved You So Long (Il Y A Longtempts Que Je T'aime) has been reviewed by 2 users
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Content updated: 19/11/2017 19:56

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