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I've Loved You So Long [Blu-ray] (Version française)
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Juliette Fontaine (Kristin Scott Thomas, Golden Globe Nominee for I've Loved You So Long, Oscar nominee for The English Patient) is a frail, haunted woman, an ex-doctor who's a shell of her former self. Having served 15 years in prison for an unspeakable crime, she's back on the "outside." With nowhere else to go, she comes to live with her loving but estranged sister Lea (Elsa Zylberstein). Together the sisters embark on a painful but redemptive journey back from life's darkest edge in this gripping drama of struggle and salvation.
Kristin Scott Thomas is brilliant as Juliette, freed from prison after serving 15 years. Enigmatic, reserved, yet ready to re-enter life cautiously, Juliette moves in with her younger sister, Lea (Elsa Zylberstein), a literature professor, and the latter's husband Luc (Serge Hazanavicius), who worries about allowing Juliette into a home with two young children (related to the reason she was convicted in the first place). Also in the house is Juliette and Lea's father (Jean-Claude Arnaud), mute from illness. Writer-director Philippe Claudel slowly reveals details about the nature of Juliette's crime as she takes a job in a hospital records department and is wooed by a colleague. Other forces in Juliette's life--people asking questions, a visit to her dementia-suffering mother, tensions between her and Lea--slowly tease out the mystery behind her actions and takes viewers to a conclusion that adds an element of surprise but ties things up too tidily. Claudel cultivates an aura of naturalism and no-frills storytelling that allows dramatic developments and revelations to unfold easily. The film borders a bit on soap opera, but the grace and intelligence of Thomas' performance, offset by Zylberstein's more emotional work, is never less than compelling. --Tom KeoghSee all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
This French film has an intimate, art house-feeling to it; it's all about unraveling Juliette's secret in spite of her sullenness and silence. Thomas, who often plays disdainful posh women, is wonderful as the haunted Juliette. We sympathize with her even before we learn her secret; afterward, we feel her pain and loss. Though Juliette is a woman of very few words, her tortured face reveals the agony within.
The story is a moody mystery with touching performances and a poignant script. If you love the pretty French children's song, "A la Claire Fontaine," you'll be humming it for days after watching this movie. It's sad and delicate and will have you wondering what you would do in Juliette's situation. In French with English subtitles (I tried listening to it in English but thought it was much better in French, and Thomas' French is very good.)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Kristin Scott Thomas, in a quietly intense, brilliantly calibrated performance, plays a woman just freed after 15 years in prison for murder. Until she can establish a new life, she is to move in with the sister who never came to visit her in all those years and the sister's family--a worried husband, two young adopted daughters and the husband's father, a stroke victim who can no longer talk. Soon a parole officer who dreams of visiting the Orinoco and a university colleague of the sister, who once taught in a prison, assume key roles as well. All these characters, even the little kids, come off as exceptionally real and interesting people.
This is one of those movies that reveals itself slowly and stays with you for a long time. It plays on an emotional level that reminds me somewhat of "Under the Sand," the Charlotte Rampling movie about the woman whose husband went for a swim and was never seen again. (Odd, kind of, that both are French movies that star English actresses who've lived most of their adult lives in France.)
I've Loved You So Long focuses on the story of Juliette Fontaine coming from prison to live with her sister, who was a young adolescent when she was incarcerated. The tensions of living with an extended family are exacerbated by Juliette's personality, which it is accepted is altered by her time in gaol. Philippe Claudel's story is beautifully structured to release just as much information as is necessary to keep you interested, while retaining just enough mystery to keep you on the edge of your seat.
I have never seen a French film that I haven't liked, but I have also never seen a French film of this calibre. It is an outstanding piece of storytelling, full of pathos and charm.
The plot may seem slow in revealing the details one wishes to know, such as the unspeakable crime Juliette has committed and why she is such a tormented, distant soul, but this actually worked for me as Juliette's character is fully- developed here and the viewer is rewarded with one of the most poignant and nuanced performance by an actress. Kristin Scott-Thomas is remarkable in this movie, and her French is excellent [there is also an English audio option in which she actually does the dubbing for her part]. Her portrayal of a fragile and tormented woman who is haunted by her past and struggling to go on with her life on a daily basis is nothing short of amazing. She truly deserved the Golden Globe nomination for her performance. Elsa Zylberstein is also very credible as lea, Juliette's compassionate younger sister who tries her best to penetrate the wall of silence Juliette has erected around her. The supporting cast also does a good job - the tortured parole officer who pines for his ex-wife and kids, the college lecturer who is romantically interested in Juliette and a few others - I thought the cast did a credible job in holding the film together and elevating it above another melodrama.
This is a depressing movie and definitely one that leaves you pondering on many important life issues - choices, regrets, relationships and many more. But, I feel more enlightened for having watched it, and would recommend it to anyone who is keen on human dramas with substance.
I loved this movie until the very end, found it moving, real, etc., which I don't often do in French movies. Then I started thinking: HOW could nobody know about her son's illness? HOW could her husband have testified against her? HOW could her sister's friends, and her sister not have read about the case in the papers...so the movie does not stand up under even the lightest of scrutinies. Until I reached that realization, it was great. Kristen Scott Thomas is brilliant, absolutely, as are some of the other actors, but the story, so earnest, actually is hollow and ultimately silly.