I've Loved You So Long | Chicago Reader

I've Loved You So Long

Philippe Claudel is a successful French novelist, so it's odd that his filmmaking debut (2008) suffers more from narrative than cinematic flaws. Kristin Scott Thomas plays a husk of a woman who's just been paroled after serving 15 years for a heinous murder; with nowhere else to go, she moves in with the younger sister she barely knows (the luminous Elsa Zylberstein), the sister's brusque, suspicious husband (Serge Hazanavicius), and their two adorable moppets. Claudel excels at quiet character development and creates a convincing milieu of minor personalities as he explores whether the ex-convict can ever be truly accepted again by her family or the larger community. But he also commits the cardinal sin of withholding the full story until the very end, when it spills out in a histrionic scene between the two sisters and largely exonerates the older one. The movie takes on a challenging premise, does enough spadework to address it meaningfully, then inexplicably backs away in the last reel. In French with subtitles. PG-13, 115 min.

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