Trying to relax a bit while folding clothes, I opened Netflix and found it recommended to me by "them", whoever "they" are. I vaguely remembered hearing something about this being a good film. I clicked play and was immersed in a film I found strangely powerful, if not somewhat voyeuristic.
The story hinges on two sisters: Lea, with an apparently happily married existence with a spouse, good job, cute kids, nice house. The other sister, Juliette, recently released from prison, is brittle and hard, wrapped in layers of grief and sadness. Bit by bit her story unfolds. It is utterly captivating.
I don't recall ever seeing such a stark, silent depiction of suffering. Kristin Scott Thomas is brilliant - no makeup, gaunt, silent, pensive. She so completely inhabits the character and communicates every nuance of her pain through the slightest movements. A small grimace, a brief glance. The wrinkling of her forehead. When the movie moves towards it's climax and the veneer cracks, the physical release is potent.
I was deeply moved by this movie. Often I find myself drawn into films, identifying with the characters and generally pulling out some sort of application. In retrospect, I do think this story is a remarkable demonstration of grace and unconditional love; but my strongest reaction to I've Loved You So Long is to the delicate strength of Juliette. She is absolutely untouchable, until she chooses to move past safety and into acceptance. Her initial steps are small and tentative, reactive to the actions and attitudes of those around her. Eventually the character moves from "there" - a difficult, painful past riddled with guilt and great loss - to "here" - a simple statement of grace.
Good movie. Highly recommended for a rainy afternoon.