After serving a 15-year long prison sentence, Juliette Fontaine (Kristin Scott Thomas) moves in with her sister’s (Elsa Zylberstein) family and tries to find her place in society again. Author Philippe Claudel’s filmmaking debut sounds familiar themes for those who know him – there’s even a character who works as a teacher in prison, just like Claudel once did. At first, the movie deliberately holds back information, but once we learn more about why Juliette spent so many years locked up the filmmakers challenge us to look at her as a human being and not a monster. Less provocative once we find out the full reason for her crime, but the film benefits immensely from the lead performance.
2008-France-Germany. 117 min. Color. Produced by Yves Marmion. Written and directed by Philippe Claudel. Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas (Juliette Fontaine), Elsa Zylberstein (Léa), Serge Hazanavicius (Luc), Laurent Grévill, Frédéric Pierrot, Lise Ségur.
Trivia: Original title: Il y a longtemps que je t’aime.
BAFTA: Best Foreign Language Film. European Film Awards: Best Actress (Scott Thomas).
Last word: “It’s not based on a true story. At the same time in France you often hear about people demanding the right to take their own life. And as it happens, when the film came out, there was a story of that sort in the press. It’s one of society’s pressing issues. And an artist is someone who feels the vibrations of the world and tries to transcribe them through his medium. I wanted to explore the pain of this woman, placed in front of an impossible choice.” (Claudel, Indiewire)