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last update 4.Aug.08
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I’ve Loved You So Long
4.5/5   MUST must see SEE   Il y a Longtemps que Je T’Aime
dir-scr Philippe Claudel
with Kristin Scott Thomas, Elsa Zylberstein, Serge Hazanavicius, Laurent Grévill, Frédéric Pierrot, Jean-Claude Arnaud, Lise Ségur, Liliy-Rose, Mouss Zouheyri, Souad Mouchrik, Catherine Hosmalin, Claire Johnston
zylberstein and scott thomas release Fr 19.Mar.08,
UK 26.Sep.08
08/France UGC 1h55

28th Shadows Awards

i've loved you so long This startling tale of redemption refuses to take an easy road through the material, revealing its secrets gradually and putting the characters in sharp focus. It's bold and provocative, and powerfully moving.

After 15 years away, Juliette (Scott Thomas) comes to stay with her sister Lea (Zylberstein), her husband Luc (Hazanavicius) and their two adopted Vietnamese daughters (Segur and Liliy-Rose). But something unspoken is creating a distance between them. It emerges that Juliette was in prison all that time for a serious crime. With this kind of past, is it possible for her to put her life back together? While most people are openly hostile, she finds understanding in some unlikely places. But can her family forgive her? Or trust her?

This is an especially tricky subject for a movie, as the actors must be able to build sympathy even though we have every reason to worry. But this cast is well up to the challenge, with a tour-de-force performance from Scott Thomas and beautiful acting from Zylberstein, who surprises us in every scene. These two fine actresses fill in the delicately structured script, adding emotion and tension that, through a twisty catharsis, leaves us completely drained. And they are ably supported by Hazanavicius and Grevill (as Lea's colleague, who has an intriguing connection with Juliette)

Writer-director Claudel expertly paces the story like real life, carefully dribbling the facts to weed out the rumours, letting the characters cautiously reach out, snap in self-defence, try to understand each other. It's a brilliantly constructed narrative, shot and edited with almost invisible skill and allowing the actors to come to vivid life before our eyes. Scenes turn completely in a split-second, big revelations emerge quietly and emotions swell suddenly.

This is a film about confronting the elephant in the room. When Juliette snaps ("I, your sister, was in prison!"), we can feel her heartfelt cry to stop dancing around a subject that, by definition, is going to change all their lives every day from now on. As details emerge, we are forced to grapple, right along with these people, with the ramifications of truth and forgiveness in ways that are both provocative and hopeful.

12 themes, language
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dir Ricardo de Montreuil
scr Angel Ibarguren, Juan Luis Nugent
with Jason Day, Elsa Pataky, Enrique Murciano, Phellipe Haagensen, Ramsay Ross, Liz Gallardo, Lucia Ojeda, Andres Arellano, Anahí de Cárdenas, Angelita Velásquez
murciano release UK Jun.08 eiff,
US 20.Mar.09
08/Peru 1h40

edinburgh Film Fest
mancora With a strong sense of physicality and a trio of cool central characters, this Peruvian road movie looks terrific and keeps our minds engaged. Even if it gets a bit melodramatic ad rambling.

In Lima, Santi (Day) is having a very hard time: he's just lost his job, his father (Ross) has committed suicide and his car won't start. But he also has a serious chip on his shoulder, rejecting help from anyone, including his old friend Ximena (Pataky), who flies from New York with her husband Iñigo (Murciano) to help. When Santi announces he's driving to the holiday town of Máncora, Ximena and Iñigo go with him. and as their egos clash, old feelings and current issues gurgle to the surface.

Director de Montreuil creates a beautifully Latin American movie, paying homage to Y Tu Mamá También in the film's structure, only with characters and situations that are marginally more grown-up. And the story is more structured as well, with moments of high drama and raucous sexuality as well as some serious soul-searching and several surprise revelations.

The cast is very good. Day has the trickiest role, since Santi is such a mopey, arrogant idiot, wallowing in his lack of focus and really only surviving on his good looks. Pataky is spiky, mysterious and very sexy. While Murciano adds a bit of grit as the annoyed and annoying Iñigo. And as a hitchhiking Buddhist surfer they pick up along the way, Haagensen provides some witty philosophical grounding: "What counts is the journey, not the destination."

And that pretty much explains the whole film, because each character has a flash of enlightenment in the unlikeliest place along the road. In some ways, the film feels a but drifty and repressed, with lots of faux deep conversations, macho swagger and lusty flirtation. And this can be a bit trying when the central characters are this unsympathetic. But the filmmakers and cast also create moments of real humanity and pure energy. And as these people discover the ability to face the consequences of their actions, the movie itself becomes both involving and challenging.

18 themes, language, strong violence, sexuality, drugs
21.Jun.08 eiff
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Origin: Spirits of the Past
dir Keiichi Sugiyama
scr Naoko Kakimoto, Nana Shiina
voices Ryo Katsuji, Aoi Miyazaki, Masaru Hamaguchi, Kenichi Endo, Toshikazu Fukawa, Yuko Kotegawa, Ren Osugi
origin release Jap 7.Jan.06,
US 20.Feb.07 dvd,
UK 12.Jul.08
06/Japan 1h35
origin With strong, somewhat offbeat environmental themes, this futuristic manga movie tells a seriously inventive story that drifts a bit over the top. But then, this also allows the animators to create some unforgettable imagery.

In a post-apocalyptic landscape, humans cling to life in desolate cities, begging and bartering for help from the forest, which has developed a conscience and culture. Agito (voiced by Katsuji) is a young boy who inadvertently awakens Toola (Miyazaki), a girl from the ancient past who is shocked by the state of the planet. She decides to join another awakened ancient (Endo) to fight the forest for power. But Agito takes the bold move to unite with the forest and convince Toola that the world is better as it is.

With central characters who are all teens, the film has a childish feel to it, like an imaginative game a group of kids might create one day in their back garden. The freewheeling structure is impossible to predict, and as the writers seem to make up ever more bizarre things (like a walking volcano), the animators more than keep up with them. Visually the film is stunning, placing simplistic 2D anime characters into vividly detailed 3D landscapes.

And there are plenty of strong issues to keep us intrigued, from the way the trees protect the water, rationing it to the greedy humans, to the generational gaps between a few grey-haired leaders and the hyper-kinetic youngsters. There are eye-catching details, such as the splintered moon in the night sky. And there are some fascinating story details along the way, mainly centring on all the mistakes mankind has made.

But the story comes with a ridiculously convoluted mythology, including continual revelations of past events that change how everyone sees the present. Mad scientific experiments, ecological mayhem and intertwined rescue attempts all combine into something that, on the surface, looks incredibly complex and rather insane. But beneath all of this is a startlingly simple little tale about redemption, plus learning to understand how people and the planet are so closely intertwined that we need to work together if either of us wants to have a future. This is rather obvious and corny for adults, but at least it looks great.

12 themes, violence
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The Pope’s Toilet
4/5   El Baño del Papa
dir-scr César Charlone, Enrique Fernández
with César Troncoso, Virginia Méndez, Virginia Ruiz, Nelson Lence, Mario Silva, Henry De Leon, Jose Arce, Rosario Dos Santos, Luna Alex Silva, Alvarez Baltasar Burgos, Carlos Lerena, Hugo Blandamuro
troncoso and friend release Uru 3.Aug.07,
UK 1.Aug.08
07/Uruguay 1h38


el bano del papa Charming and hilariously offbeat, this warm Uruguayan comedy-drama tells a story that resonates with wit and emotion, capturing universal themes while incisively examining a major event in a very small town.

Near the Brazilian border in 1988, fast-talking Beto (Troncoso) makes ends meet by smuggling contraband around the tenacious customs officials. So when it's announced that the Pope John Paul II will pay a visit to his small village, everyone gets an idea to profit from the pilgrims. While most villagers plan food or souvenir stalls, Beto's builds a flush toilet he'll charge visitors to use. His wife Carmen and daughter Silvia (Méndez and Ruiz) roll their eyes in exasperation, knowing that it won't be nearly that easy. But they never give up on him.

The film has a definite whiff of Italian neorealism in its examination of people driven with simple needs, plus the sense that everything could go tragically wrong at any moment. Beto's real goal in life is to replace his clanky bicycle with a motorbike, and in this setting that ambition is just as lofty as his daughter's desire to study journalism in the capital city. Meaanwhile, Beto's nemesis is a power-hungry policeman (Lence) he probably grew up with.

In addition to the fairly wacky comedy of errors, the film has several layers of intriguing subtext that make it all the more engaging. Beto and Carmen are incapable of understanding their daughter's ambition--the simple fact that she doesn't want to end up pregnant and trapped in the village like her friends. On the other hand, Carmen is well aware of Beto's fragile ego, and the importance of sustaining it, regardless of the cost.

Filmmakers Charlone and Fernández infuse everything with wry humour, even building some jangling suspense in the final act. The photography, editing and music are all witty and rough, with a snappy authenticity that adds layers of comedy and emotion, and sets the scene perfectly for actors with wonderfully world-worn faces. These are people whose lives are infused with desperation, and yet they are also full of hope that they're on the verge of success, against all odds.

15 themes, language, innuendo
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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall