Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Philippe Claudel's I've Loved You So Long finds no visual or written correlative for the closed curtain of Kristin Scott-Thomas' face. If I hadn't seen Rachel Getting Married, I might have more tolerance for this story about a Bad Sister who moves in with her younger sister after a fifteen-year stint in the hoosgau for murder; how she maneuvers (subtly, of course) into their good graces – especially in the face of a Javert-like brother-in-law's hostility – is the stuff of predictable drama. Scott-Thomas' Big Secret revealed in the last ten minutes offended me as another example of rickety dramaturgy. As the scripts of Doubt and Frost/Nixon showed, modern screenwriters still rely on third-act contrivances that were already pointless on fifties Broadway. In the movies, shocking surprises work best when the director allows the audience to consider how it shapes their emerging perceptions. And the surprise here isn't even so shocking -- a pity, since with her sullen, vacant, slightly bemused expression, Scott-Thomas looks capable of anything (see, now she looks like someone who would fall hopelessly, tragically in love with old wet Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient). Still projecting the hauteur that has never made her a box office star, she wanders around a movie which flatters her too much. Claudel seems afraid of his own film. So maybe I've Loved You So Long does find a visual and written correlative for Scott-Thomas' face, at that.

1 comment:

Hans said...

Haha! Thanks- Everyone loooves this movie. I thought it was boring and actually annoying about its "secret". Yes, people don't talk about certain things in natural conversation. But the way that it was "avoided" to create dull suspense as though it was a mystery seemed cheap. There was no way that at the dinner table someone wouldn't have said: "Look, asshole, she killed her kid 'cause he had cancer, and it was fifteen years ago. She's certainly paid for it by being in prison and with the pain you can see in her face. Give her a fucking break."