Il y a longtemps que je t'aime
**½/**** Image A Sound A- Extras C+
starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Elsa Zylberstein, Serge Hazanavicius, Laurent Grevill
written and directed by Philippe Claudel
by Bryant Frazer There are a number of reasons why Kristin Scott Thomas's performance, which is at the centre of I've Loved You So Long (Il y a longtemps que je t'aime), stands out. Yes, it's because she's a terrific screen presence. Yes, it's because it's invariably refreshing to see a 48-year-old Englishwoman sinking her teeth into a three-dimensional role, not just emoting with great adeptness but deploying her fluent French. But there's another reason: In a film that basically amounts to an extremely well-executed Lifetime Movie Channel special, Thomas is by far the most nuanced aspect of the production. In the sleepiness of her eyes and the weariness of her glances, you can read her acid dismissal of the world around her. In the parallel lines of tiny wrinkles around her lips--you can see them in close-up--are mapped out the quiet ravages that would be visited upon any of us by too many years in splendid isolation. Thomas is an unself-conscious beauty for sure, but an aging one. And it's that full-fledged adulthood, that great density of experience and heartbreak that she embodies, that adds weight to what could be, as scripted, an off-puttingly generic moodiness. Her presence is a beacon amongst stock characters and coy screenwriter's tricks, a canticle amidst the clichés that threaten to swamp her story.