REVIEW: 'I've Loved You So Long'

A haunting portrayal dislocation and loss. 

> I've Loved You So Long

Director: Philippe Claudel

Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Elsa Zylberstein, Serge Hazanavicius, Laurent Grévill, Frédéric Pierrot

Rating: (M)

Four stars (out of five)

Review by Mark Orton

Greeted by her sister Léa (Elsa Zylberstein) at the airport, Juliette Fontaine (Kristin Scott Thomas) is a mystery to everyone she initially encounters.

Enunciating French with a prominent English accent is just one of her many traits that arouse our curiosity.

Institutionalisation of some form is the most obvious conclusion to draw, but we are left picking up small clues until the eventual revelation.

Written and directed by Philippe Claudel, I've Loved You So Long never descends into weepy melodramatic mush, though it comes close at times.

Its one major strength is the steely demeanour of Scott Thomas, referred to by Jeremy Clarkson as one of the finest-looking women in the world.

Scott Thomas' surprisingly dowdy exterior only heightens the impact of her troubled past.

The camera lingers uncomfortably on Scott Thomas' accentuated facial lines, but it is her vacant eyes that pull you closer to the pain she harbours.

This isn't easy viewing, and certain references to regional idiosyncrasies will be lost on most.

However drawn out and grey the film is, I've Loved You So Long is still a haunting portrait of dislocation and easily Scott-Thomas' finest moment.

Best thing: A role tailor-made for Kristin Scott Thomas' dual cultural identity.

Worst thing: Not another fade to black, moments of dread teased beyond necessity.

See it with: Those not easily depressed or seeking frivolous entertainment.

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