Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Il y a longtemps que je t'aime (I've Loved You So Long)
WORTH-IT: (Philippe Claudel) An delightfully stereotypical French film (limited dialogue... colorless and unassuming), I've Loved You So Long begins as the story of two sisters, separated at a young age by the eldest's incarceration for the murder of her own six-year-old son. Apart for 15 years, the girls, now women, must start again, a journey that illustrates unconditional love at its underestimated best. That sounds wordy, but the only way to accurately describe this movie is through its intense emotional pull. Kristin Scott Thomas plays the newly liberated Juliette Fontaine, sullen, silent, and unsure the world will ever offer happiness again. Elsa Zylberstein plays the younger sister, Lea, optimistically ignorant to anything but the chance to get to know the woman she spent 15 years trying to not forget. Juliette's return brings an instant friend, a needed Auntie and a missing sister to her picture-perfect world, two adopted kids and all. But the road doesn't prove as frilly. Juliette's silence creates threatening tension between Lea and her husband and a brick wall of doubt against a possible acceptance or normality. But, like a great French film, we are forced to rely on our senses to figure out this impossible problem; using facial expression, color scheme and music to replace the dialogue that would have otherwise spelled out this woman's lonely spirit due to a good portion of life behind bars and her constant battle with the memory of her dead son. I am feeling wordy again, but can't bring myself to clean it up; Instead, I simply ask you to see the film. There are no special effects, erotic love scenes or rolling French countryside. Instead, in the monochromatic backdrop and the awkward attempts at conversation, there is realism. And that realism allows your mind to uncover vibrant emotion, poignant morale and one immensely touching story of unconditional love and its promise for a backbone in tragedy. Never before has there been such little dialogue for such tremendous heartache. Claudel's story captures you with the exact amount of explanation and mystery to let this film shape your own heart and color its own story. Bravo to Claudel and to his starring soeurs.