Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Film: "I've Loved You So Long"

Ou Il y'a longtemps que je t'aime (moi non plus) si vous parlez français. My beloved and I went to see this film mainly because we were worried that the cinema showing it (the Screen on College Street, formerly the Metropole) might be about to close down. Before getting to the film itself, there are too many cinemas in Dublin whose imminent closure I fear, making it very important to spread the love between the Screen and the Lighthouse in particular. These two cinemas represent interesting contrasts, with the Screen being a venerable old cinema in a city that hates venerable old cinemas, while the Lighthouse is an architecturally fascinating multiplex in the basement of an apartment block. The latter suffers through being slightly outside the city centre and not obviously near a car park, so although it is not actually that far away by LUAS, bike, or even foot travel, there are always other cinemas that are more accessible. OK, so they will be showing My Lovely Irish Holiday #7, but for too many people their closeness to town makes them a far more appealing prospect.

Eh, where was I? Oh yeah, I've Loved You So Long. I had stayed away from this previously, largely because it sounded like it would be a lovely film, and also because it had Kristin Scott Thomas in it. Some time ago, I decided that KST is a mark of not-quality, making avoiding all films featuring her my rule of thumb. I think this might be a generalisation from Four Weddings And A Funeral (avoiding all films with any involvement by Hugh Grant, Andie McDowell, Richard Curtis, John Hannah etc. is another path I have chosen). But I was rather impressed by this film and by KST's performance, and its largely understated depth.

The story is simple enough. At the start, Lea (Elsa Sylberstein) picks up Julie, her older sister (KST), at an airport. Their conversation seems a bit awkward, and you pick up quickly that they have not spoken for a great many years. The younger sister is taking the older to stay with her and her family for a while, and you rapidly get the sense that Julie has been off in chokey or the funny farm for the last number of years, for reasons that are initially unclear. The film follows the sisters as they rebuild their relationship and as Julie attempts to adjust to life outside the institutional world. And that's kind of it, really. The film is all about the characters, both Lea & Julie but also the other people who hover around them (notably Lea's husband, her mute father in law, the depressed cop Julie has to sign in with, and the colleague of Lea who takes a shine to Julie).

You do learn early enough where Julie has been for the last number of years – she was in jail for murdering her son. My one real criticism of the film was that it did not leave this terrible event unexplained. Late in the film we learn the truth – cue cathartic emotional scenes between Lea & Julie. It's not like this was all dreadful, but I think something a bit more enigmatic might have suited the film more.

One thing I have noticed people saying about this film is "why is Kristin Scott Thomas appearing in a French film?" My researches suggest, however, that KST has spent most of her life living in France, speaks French, is married to a French bloke, and is basically all about the French. So no problem. They throw something in here about her being half-English, so maybe her accent is still a bit unconvincing.

space issues prevented this appearing in the current issue of Frank's APA

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