"Who's that?" some of us asked when Kristen Scott Thomas came gliding over a sand dune in The English Patient. Thomas hasn't had quite the career one might have expected, partly because of the iciness that melted so beautifully in Ralph Fiennes' arms. And she's colder than ever in I've Loved You So Long, French writer-director Philippe Claudel's tight-lipped melodrama about a woman who's just been released after spending 15 years in prison for...well, I'll let you find that one out on your own.
Suffice it to say that people in that position must take it one day at a time, and that's exactly what the movie does, storing away little moments as if for a rainy day. It's all very heartbreaking, of course, but it's also a little dry, Thomas doling out emotion via IV drip - dry, that is, until near the end, when the rug is suddenly pulled out from underneath us. You could say this takes the tragedy to a higher level. You could also say it invalidates everything we've seen.