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The Bowdoin French Film Festival

  • 2/21/2013 | 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Location: Visual Arts Center, Kresge Auditorium
  • Event Type: Movie/Film

The Bowdoin French Film Festival


(I've Loved You So Long)

7:00 P.M.
Kresge Auditorium
Visual Arts Center

The women-in-prison film has a long, glorious and tawdry history; what’s more difficult to pull off is the story of a lady sprung from the slammer. In his helming debut, director-screenwriter Philippe Claudel, a novelist and professor of literature, crafts a solid woman’s picture that, as a wonderful star vehicle for Kristin Scott Thomas, suggests a kinship with Warner Bros. weepies from the 1940s. First seen rather conspicuously without makeup, her skin color resembling three-day-old institutional grub, Scott Thomas plays Juliette Fontaine, a former physician who’s just completed a 15-year jail sentence for murdering her young son (though the reason for her incarceration isn’t revealed until the final act). Her younger sister, literature professor Léa, takes her in, anxiously trying not to upend the snug comfort of her middle-class clan with this new addition. As she reacclimates to civilian life, Juliette slowly thaws, becoming closer with her nieces, but her calm is punctuated by believably spiky outbursts. Scott Thomas gives a remarkably deft performance, being careful not to outact Zylberstein, who particularly shines during a seminar discussion about Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment. Throughout, Claudel and his cast smartly reimagine melodramatic conventions, creating a film that fully earns its moments of emotional excess.