Plot Summary of the Movie "I've Loved You So Long"

by David Harris

"I've Loved You So Long" is a 2007 French film starring Kristin Scott Thomas ("The English Patient"). Originally titled "Il y a longtemps que je t'aime," the drama is the debut from director and writer Philippe Claudel. It was released in the United States in 2008 by Sony Pictures Classics.


As "I've Loved You So Long" begins, sisters Léa (Elsa Zylberstein) and Juliette (Kristin Scott Thomas) are reuniting at an airport. Juliette has just been released from a long prison sentence, and the long time apart plus a large age gap renders the two almost complete strangers. Léa was just a teenager when her sister, a doctor, was sentenced. Although Juliette has no strong desire to reconnect with her sister, she accepts her invitation to stay with her upon her release.


Léa is now a college professor, and she lives with her husband, Luc (Serge Hazanavicius), their adopted Vietnamese daughters, and Luc's father, Papy Paul (Jean-Claude Arnaud), who is mute after a stroke. Luc is wary and almost hostile to Juliette's presence, as Claudel keeps the nature of her crime secret until the end of the film. Soon, Juliette begins to slowly reacclimate to society after finding work in the medical records department of a hospital and developing a close relationship with her young nieces, much to Luc's chagrin and fear for their safety.


Toward the film's end, Léa accidentally stumbles upon the truth behind Juliette's incarceration. Juliette had a young son who had been diagnosed with a terminal and painful disease. Rather than allow her son to suffer, Juliette euthanized him. Wracked with guilt, she did not defend herself during her trial. As the film ends, Léa and Juliette are finally able to find the emotional connection that eluded them for the duration of the film.


"I've Loved You So Long" received strongly positive reviews in the United States. Many critics cited the strength of the performances, and Kristin Scott Thomas was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance. The film also won a BAFTA for Best Film Not in the English Language, and a César for Best First Work. It grossed a modest $3.17 million in the United States, according to Box Office Mojo.

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