DRAMA; 1hr 57min (French with subtitles)
STARRING: Kristen Scott Thomas, Elsa Zylberstein
Deep waters: from left, Zylberstein and Scott Thomas
As a damaged woman visiting her younger sister (Zylberstein, a delicate whirlwind as Léa) after 15 years apart, Scott Thomas (as Juliette) abandons makeup and all other feminine wiles, allowing a deep-etched sorrow to speak silently for itself. Juliette’s life has hollowed her out and the contrast between the strain of her physical and emotional isolation and the bustling family life of her nurturing sister initially seems as extreme as their opposing circumstances. As to the secrets of Juliette’s psyche, they are mysteries to be guessed at and gradually revealed with a master’s sleight of hand by novelist and first-time film-maker Philippe Claudel.
Scott Thomas’s stillness is a magnet: you search for her in every frame. And as the ripple effect around Juliette widens, touching all those who are close to her, Claudel wisely allows it, too, to be a muted yet acute statement. His delineation of suffering is keenly observed and minutely rendered, and its denouement pierces the heart.