I’ve Loved You So Long
There’s a fine maturity about French films. The ones that I remember most are about adults and the difficulties inherent in grown-up life; sort of the opposite of Hollywood, which seems to be stuck in an adolescent mindset.
Juliette Fontaine waits at an airport. Her sister is late picking her up. Juliette smokes. Her sister arrives, saying little. There are no recriminations, only restrained excitement, mystery and questions.
Philippe Claudel, the writer/director of 2008’s I’ve Loved You So Long, doles out information bit by bit. But so does Juliette Fontaine, portrayed with amazing restraint and depth by Kristin Scott Thomas. What you learn eventually is that Juliette is returning to what is left of her family after a 15-year lock-up in a French prison. (I won’t say why, though, as to not spoil the remarkable tension built up in this moving film.)
This different worldview appeals to me. At different points in time I may prefer it to the one at home, just the way I may want pasta for dinner on Saturday but a nice paella on Sunday. And sometimes I need a film about grown-ups that are flawed but trying, as is the case here. I need to see a world where there is no completely evil or good side, where there are just people who make mistakes and struggle to be understood.