I Have Loved You So Long
Directed by Phillipe Claudel
The funny thing about guilt is that it often keeps one from doing the right thing. We put up walls and push people away. Yet those feelings of guilt might be the impetus we need to reach out and begin reconciliation. Juliette (Kristen Scott Thomas—in a Francophone role!) finds herself in such a place. Released after 15 years in prison, she numbly reconnects with her younger sister (Elsa Zylberstein) and begins the slow, humbling process of rebuilding her life. Abandoned by parents and husband, Juliette only has a sympathetic parole officer and her sister to help bring about what nearly amounts to a resurrection. Writer/director Claudel creates an emotional tension in all of Thomas’ relationships—even the more casual ones and Thomas gives an appropriately restrained performance throughout.
Directed by Andrzej Wajda
Director and co-writer Andrzej Wajda revealed in a Polish TV interview that he was caught between telling “the crime and the lie.” The crime being the 1940 massacre of over 15,000 Polish army officers—including those who were teachers, architects, bankers, and engineers before the September 1939 invasion—by the Soviets. Wajda’s own father was executed with the others in the Katyn forest. The lie was the cover up and denial by the Soviets. They blamed it on the Nazis who discovered the mass graves and, in an egregious case of the pot calling the clichéd kettle black, used it for their own propaganda. The story focuses on the women who are left widowed with unanswered questions and on the destruction of Polish culture by Stalin. The film shifts back and forth from the crime to the lie and ends abruptly—like the lives of those soldiers taking a bullet to the back of the head.
Thanks to Absinthe contributor Scot Martin for the film recommendations.