Editors' pick

I've Loved You So Long

I've Loved You So Long movie poster
MPAA rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama
Upon moving in with her younger sister after a 15-year sentence for killing her son, Juliette (Kristin Scott Thomas) learns how to reconnect with her family and life outside prison walls.
Starring: Kristin Scott Thomas, Elsa Zylberstein
Director: Philippe Claudel
Running time: 1:57
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Editorial Review

It isn't very long before you're able to figure out what's eating Juliette (Kristin Scott Thomas), the haunted heroine who's reunited with little sister Léa (Elsa Zylberstein) after a 15-year separation in "I've Loved You So Long."

Turns out that Juliette hasn't been away on a trip, as Léa tells her two young daughters, but in prison. The shameful reason why -- and another, even more deeply buried secret -- unspool with deliberate mystery in French writer-director Philippe Claudel's exquisitely rendered story of reconciliation and redemption, which has something of a thriller's structure but is really all about relationships.

That, and Juliette's long, hard struggle to feel human again.

To that end, she's desperate to connect with others, even stooping to an ill-advised pickup in a bar. Her relationship with her sensitive parole officer (Frédéric Pierrot), on the other hand, sidles toward a kind of sweet friendship but ends badly, underscoring Claudel's message that we all have skeletons in the closet.

But the dynamic between Juliette and Léa, who never visited her sister in prison, is the most fraught. And, in the hands of Scott Thomas and Zylberstein, the most rewarding to watch. Their characters' desire -- no, need -- to repair their fragile bond feels as achingly real as the mother lode of hidden pain that gets exposed by the work of these two great actresses.

-- Michael O'Sullivan (Nov. 21, 2008)

Contains mature themes and smoking. In French with English subtitles.