I've Loved You So Long - Blu-ray Review

'almost faultless and the balancing of complex tones and unspoken subject matters is tasteful and compelling'

A beautiful film about a family's collective guilt, redemption and grief, Philippe Claudel's I've Loved You So Long works as both a character study of Juliette Fontaine (Kristen Thomas) and as a much broader themed drama. Beginning with Juliette's release from prison for an unspecified crime (don't Google or IMDb it, it's not revealed until thirty minutes or so in), the film builds to examine her path to redemption, along with that of her sister (Elsa Zylberstein) and sister's husband (Serge Hazanavicius) who haven't seen her since her incarceration.

Claudel's subject matter is tough and uncompromising but the writer/director flinches little and examines often, presenting Juliette with difficult situations that play out in a short enough structure to be awkward and realistic but end before they become embarrassing and false. His direction is almost faultless and the Frenchman's balancing of complex tones and unspoken subject matters is tasteful and compelling.

It helps that the stunning Kristen Scott Thomas is here to lead us through as the introspective sister, cut off by her parents and remembered only by her sibling. Hers is a performance that radiates integrity and her quietly studied portrayal of an offender readjusting both to the world and to her new self imbues the role with both depth and intrigue.

As Claudel moves the film through to its conclusions you're left waiting for some sort of disaster or misplaced revelation which thankfully never arrives. It would have been easy to spoil this redemptive tale with an out-of-place ending but Claudel manipulates the melancholy perfectly and builds to a conclusion that perhaps jars slightly but which never feels misplaced. Rather brilliant and generous support from Hazanavicius, Zylberstein and Laurent Grévill bolster this already magnificent film up even further; up all the way towards something approaching perfection.

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'Claudel shows a real skill for handling characters and group scenes... so much of the film feels natural and true' - Phil On Film

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