I've Loved You So Long (12A)

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The Independent Culture

Kristin Scott Thomas gets one of her best roles in ages in this sombre account of a woman coming to terms with her past and present isolation.

She's never looked more ethereal than she does as Juliette, a woman who's been mysteriously separated from her family for years. Now younger sister Lea (Elsa Zylberstein) has effected a rapprochement and brought Juliette back to live with her husband and two young daughters. We can guess that she's been in prison, though her crime is revealed only by degrees; what writer-director Philippe Claudel does superbly is to map the slow thawing of the icy chip at her heart.

Both Scott Thomas and Zylberstein are tremendous as the sisters (they're also a convincing physical match), but the screenplay feels choppy and episodic where one hoped for dramatic momentum. Despite her burden of guilt, Juliette is not the pariah she might have been– almost everyone's very sympathetic to her.