Kristen Scott Thomas speaks French, who knew! Sadly, I did switch over to the English dub accidentally at one point, and they didn’t have the English speaking Thomas dub her own lines!
Written By: Philippe Claudel
Directed By: Philippe Claudel
There is power present in the performance of Kristen Scott Thomas, it’s held in a detached reserve for the majority of Il Y A Longtemps Que Je T’aime, nonetheless it is always there, waiting. Admittedly I haven’t seen Thomas in much and the one film I can instantly remember her from, The English Patient, I loathed. But, I was very impressed with her performance in Il Y A Longtemps Que Je T’aime, it was a great showing and one I wasn’t expecting. I didn’t like that ending, yet Thomas saved it with her outburst and gave us that moment we knew she had been waiting for all movie long, the chance to let it all out.
The rest of the cast wasn’t really fleshed out or all that important save for the sister Léa as portrayed by Elsa Zylberstein. She needed to be the emotional prod in Juliette’s life and she was. The scenes that resonated with me the most were those that involved Thomas and Elsa playing off of each other.
The first half of Il Y A Longtemps Que Je T’aime moves excruciatingly slow. It’s paced so slowly that an hour feels like three, sometimes deliberate pacing works but in this case it made the story feel quite drawn out. As much as the idea of Juliette reintegrating into society was interesting, it did become repetitive when scene after scene tackled the same territory. Eventually you come to the point when you have seen her go through the intolerance before, the detachment before, scenes that take place near the end of the first hour are carbon copies of scenes from the beginning of the film.
My biggest gripe issue with Il Y A Longtemps Que Je T’aime lay with the ending. I liked the mystery aspect of Juliette’s fifteen years away and how that unfolded. When the first half slowed down to a halt that mystery, and the play between Elsa and Thomas was all that kept me in the film. But, the ending felt like a copout to me. The film spent a good deal of time asking the question about whether or not society should accept someone who has served their time. I enjoyed those parts, but in the end Claudel doesn’t want to ask that hard question, he wants an easy out that makes an incredibly interesting character too much of a sympathetic cliche.
Uneven is the best word I can think of to describe Il Y A Longtemps Que Je T’aime. There were parts I liked, and it is a promising debut from Claudel. It isn’t for everyone because of the slow and awkward pacing of the first half, although the pacing is remedied in the second half. Il Y A Longtemps Que Je T’aime doesn’t light my eyes aglow with wonder, but it is a good little film that is worth your time.