Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I’ve Loved You So Long

This is a French film by Philipe Claudel who also wrote it. Kristin Scott Thomas (who has lived in that country for a couple of decades and is bilingual) stars in it and she is astounding. She plays a woman who has just gotten out of prison after serving 15 years for murder. When we first see her she is sitting in a waiting room. She is a person from whom everything has been taken. She is still except for the act of smoking. She’s there but she’s been turned into a wraith.

Her younger sister is coming to take her into her home. The story of the film is the story of the older sister starting to get things back---coming back to life.

Fairly early in the film she allows a café Lothario to pick her up for an afternoon quickie. This is presumably the first heterosexual sex she’s had in 15 years. The director cuts straight from the café to the hotel room where they are already finished and the man is dressed. He comes out of the bathroom. She is sitting up in bed, staring into space. Bozo that he is, he smiles and says, “So, it was good?” She comes out of her reverie and replies, “No, not at all. But it doesn’t matter.” He’s crushed and slinks out. She gives the slightest hint of a smile. There’s still someone inside.

The rest of the cast is uniformly excellent. The film is both moving and funny. The only thing that keeps it from being great is that when all the details of the killing that sent her to prison are finally revealed, it comes perilously close to Douglas Sirk territory. Having said that, I already want to see the film over again, which is not how I feel about most things I see.

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