When it came time to talk about snubs at the 2009 Oscars all eyes seemed to look in the direction of The Dark Knight, but even worse was the Academy’s complete dismissal of I’ve Loved You So Long, a film that carries two of the best actress performances of the year from Kristin Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein, along with a fantastic script, score and direction by first timer Philippe Claudel, named best director of 2008 in the RopeofSilicon Awards. This is a beautiful film and dismissing it for the likes of Frost/Nixon, a film as generic as they come, is a complete act of disrespect and downright ignorance.
I’ve Loved You So Long has a delicate flow to it that keeps its secrets closely guarded yet never to the point the audience is entirely in the dark. The story centers on Juliette (Scott Thomas) who has just been released after spending 15 years in prison and will be spending time at her sister Lea’s (Zylberstein) house while she gets re-introduced into society. At first we don’t know why she was in prison, but the details are slowly revealed until everything is finally laid out in the film’s final moments and perhaps the best scene of 2008.
Watching the film a second time I began to realize just how well Scott Thomas and Zylberstein play off one another and how well Claudel used these moments in some extraordinary two shots. One scene toward the end of the film in which Juliette is in the kitchen and simply says to Lea, “Thank you,” is a fantastic scene that benefits from its simple and honest nature. In terms of directing debuts, I have to say Claudel has come to the table with a true gem.
As far as special features go this one is extremely limited with only a handful of deleted scenes as its lone feature, and the optional commentary they come with make you wish there was one for the entire feature. Claudel guides you through the deleted scenes proving why the film is so exceptional showing he had a true understanding of how the audience would and should react as the film played along. Perhaps the higher ups and Sony didn’t want to pay for additional subtitling, but it certainly would have been nice had they given Claudel the mic for this one.
Also being sold as a feature is an English dubbed track which includes Kristin Scott Thomas, but I am sorry, it is just awful to listen to after just the first few words are said. Hardly a “feature” worth bragging about.
Overall, despite its downer tone for the majority of its running time, I’ve Loved You So Long is as much about redemption and living through the tough times as it is about dealing with tragedy. Typically I would say a film of this nature isn’t worth buying because it is too hard to watch multiple times, but this is one of those films that plays just as well the second time as it did the first. You become invested in the characters immediately and despite knowing the outcome you can’t help but want to watch more. This Blu-ray release looks spectacular and I have no problem saying this is a film you ought to add to your collection.