Kristen Scott Thomas perfectly captures the despairing resilience of a woman released from prison after 15 years.
COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES CLASSICS
Kristin Scott Thomas has a good old-fashioned tour de force in "I've Loved You So Long," where this actress renowned for her English-speaking roles performs her part in perfect French. She plays Juliette, a physician recently released into the care of her younger sister Léa (Elsa Zylberstein) after 15 years in prison. Juliette shares Léa's home in France, along with Léa's husband and their two adopted Vietnamese daughters and his sick father. The sisters' relationship, uneasy to begin with, becomes more so, and yet, in the end, their rapprochement makes emotional sense. This is one of the rare movies where the actors in a movie look, sound, and behave as if they really were siblings. Scott Thomas captures the hard-edged woe of someone who has been locked up and then released into a world that no longer provides much succor. The reasons for her incarceration are revealed to us gradually. Director Philippe Claudel drags out the revelations – he's a bit of a tease – but the disagreeable alternative would have been to hit us with the news from the get-go. It would be easy to overrate "I've Loved You So Long," which often dampens its best effects with undue tastefulness, but the image of Scott Thomas, with her despairing resilience, stays with one. Grade: B (Rated PG-13 for thematic material and smoking.)