Kristin Scott-Thomas has been having a great year in 2008. The first production I saw her in was Anton Chekov's "The Seagull," on Broadway. She played Arkadina, Konstantin's dramatic and troublemaking mother, in such a fine performance that I was blown away and was looking for more. I got more of the same greatness in "I've Loved You So Long," where Scott-Thomas sticks to her chops and pulls off a magnificent acting job as Juliette, fresh out of prison after 15 years, and into the home of her sister Lea (Elsa Zylberstein). She moves in for a while to adjust to real life again, life outside of jail. We soon find out her crime, and even later, how and why she did it, but it would spoil most of the film to tell about. To describe Juliette, I would say quiet, sad, and gruff. He sister: exactly the opposite. I also note that this is a cinematic year for black sheep in families: Anne Hathaway in "Rachel Getting Married" and Scott-Thomas in this primarily. Anyways, Juliette slowly but surely adjusts and slowly but surely bonds with Lea's adopted daughters from Vietnam, P'tit Lys (Lise Segur) and Emilia (Lily-Rose), primarily P'tit Lys, as she somehow has both a relationship as a mother and sister figure. We are like P'tit Lys: the plot unravels for us just as it does for her. We find out a little faster, though. There is not much else to describe here: the film is basically just about Juliette and Scott-Thomas' comeback as an actress. The film's also about the acceptance of a prisoner back into society, and it gets deeper than just what crime they committed, saying that one who commits a crime shouldn't just be pinned a terrible person just because of what they did. As for how good the film is, there is a big hole where the depth should be. There is not enough information on the characters: a character's death is quizzical, with no information as to why they passed away. The film itself is too climactic and is also not climactic enough: its final scene is way too heavy-handed, while its other scenes sometimes just don't have enough purpose here. The score consists of a few notes played over and over and over again. Maddening. Also, against Scott-Thomas, although Marion Cotilliard picked up Best Actress last year for "La Vie En Rose," the Academy doesn't usually reward foreign films. The reason Cotilliard got a statue was because she played a pop icon who sang, as opposed to the contemplative fictional role where Scott-Thomas acts. Plus, the performance might take back seat to such a great performance by Melissa Leo in "Frozen River," the best performance of the year so far. Scott-Thomas, though, is fabulous, transcending languages. B
I've Loved You So Long has an unsettling twist that is worthy of a PG-13 rating.