Contemporary, provincial France. A drab, tired woman called Juliette is met by her idealistic young sister, Lea. Lea knows that Juliette has just served fifteen years for murdering her young son, but despite this, she trusts in her childhood memories and entrusts her house and her two young daughters to Juliette's care. Lea's liberal husband has his doubts, and the audience shares them. And that is the key to the success of Philippe Claudel's movie. It combines the beautifully acted character study of Juliette with the dramatic tension of a thriller. At first, the audience is concerned that Juliette will be triggered into a horrible crime against Lea's children. And then, the audience is desperate to know the motive for the original crime. It's all so carefully balanced that this movie of few concrete actions and even fewer words seems to fly by. Kudos to Kristin Scott Thomas for a genuinely brilliant performance in a difficult role, and to Philippe Claudel for crafting such three-dimensional characters. And as to the denouement, some may quibble, but I was so engrossed that I would've bought anything by that point.
IL Y'A LONGTEMPS QUE JE T'AIME played Berlin and TORONTO 2008 and was released earlier this yaer in Belgium, France, Greece, the Netherlands and Spain. It is currently on release in the UK and opens on October 24th in Israel, and the USA. It opens in Germany on November 13th.