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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 13 August 2009
It's a rarity nowadays, but films like these really make you think about life, and how we perceive things, like whether this blu-ray is a classic, well I think it is, because after renting it, I ordered it, and that's a rarity for me. This film touched me, the sincerity, the fact it's not all coloured to suit the cinema, and the fact it's not glamorised or dressed up, and covered in make up make this a real treasure - and finding it has really opened my eyes to the way we perceive life, our bond with family, and the way we see criminality.

Kristin Scott-Thomas is amazing as Juliette - a red-eyed timid woman who has come back to the family after being away for so long, and coming back to Léa's home, and we see how Juliette rebuilds her life, and how she feels in life - all beautifully told without special effects, which makes this such an important piece of cinema for me. The realness, tenderness, and almost classical way of direction, photography and script really put this above anything else - this is surely in my top ten.

This Blu-Ray really does the film justice too, the beautiful colours flow nicely on-screen, and the picture is sharp - and the sound is excellent, though I found the PCM track too quiet on my system, so I used the surround sound 5.1 - which is ample in my opinion. The subtitles (which I didn't use) were clear and well set out on the picture, and the framing is perfect.

The extras - though not many are just superb, an interview with Philippe Claudel, writer and director is quite compelling, and lasts over an hour. There are something like 5 deleted scenes, and to me they were really not needed - so good call by Claudel.

This really is a masterpiece - the whole crew have done such a superb job. Don't rent this, buy it, you'll never regret it. Wish I could tell you more about the movie, but that would spoil it and I feel that would be criminal to do so.
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on 9 April 2010
Reading some of the poorer review markings I felt obliged to comment.
First of all, if you buy a Euro region DVD and it doesn't play in your American DVD player, that's your fault not the film's.

Secondly, remember this is a French film. Subtitles are never a substitute for the real thing and there are many subtleties in the dialogue that are not and can not be expressed in subtitles, also if you don't have the correct screen size you will only see the top of the titles. I wonder if this is what happened with one of the other reviewers.

Thirdly, and this is my main point: this is one of the best films I have ever seen. At the beginning I felt dread as the main character was left alone with children, but as the story developed - slow yes, but deliciously slow - I became aware of the true nature of this woman. Symbolism was strong in this film, the visit to the art gallery in Nancy was for me a highlight of the film.

This is a truly moving film, if you don't find it so you are missing something.
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VINE VOICEon 10 April 2009
10 out of 10 in every respect. One could argue that this is a bit of an arty film. There is no tense build up to any major climax per say.
The story revolves around Julliene (Kristen Scott Thomas) who is reunited with her sister after spending 15yrs in jail. It largely follows her budding relationship with the family and her return to the world after such a long time away.
The only 'intrigue' (it can hardly be described as such) is the gradual revalation of why she was in prison. I use the word intrigue lightly because after a while it becomes reasonably obvious.
Kristen Scott Thomas's acting is oscar worthy without a doubt. She conveys all the emotions of her character so well not only through dialog but body language.
A relatively slow going but moving movie about relationships and the return to life.
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on 11 February 2009
This is a wonderful warm and amazing movie. Its a simple story of a woman trying to re engage with her own family and society after a long absence. I dont want to give any thing away about why the main character has been away. Its so wonderfully done, slow and meaningful and searingly powerful. Its the little details that give this movie so much power. I cant remember any recent movie I have seen that left me so moved. Kristin is a towering actor, truly awesome, I cant think of any other actor who could have carried off such a demanding role with such insight & grace. Spell binding cinema, this kind of movie defines what movies should be about. I cant commend it highly enough. Work of genius. All the ensemble characters are all wonderful as well.
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on 6 August 2009
As a french customer, I was particularly pleased to find this extremely moving film transfered on blu-ray (not available in France) with an excellent quality which Kristin Scott Thomas deserves most of all for her exceptionally moving performance in this film. What a pity this wonderful and sensitive actress had not gained the very first rank amongst the worldwide acclaimed stars ! As Elsa Sylberstein is excellent too, and the whole cast on a vey good level, all the subtle feelings that talented Philippe Claudel wished to put in this film are magnificently enhanced.
A must have to see and see again !
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on 26 March 2009
I thought this was a very moving film and showed how you can move from total despair and depression to a state of hope for the future. It shows that true love wins through no matter what you are led to believe. The younger sister's love for her sister allowed her to accept her whatever the crime she had committed. It is an excellent lesson for not jumping to conclusions and judgements.
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on 20 January 2009
I think this was the best independent/foreign/art-house film of 2008.

I was not too familiar with Kristen Scott-Thomas before watching this, only knowing she was a Hollywood actress. She really made her role her own in this film, and her performance in French was very convincing and precise. Of course, there are subtitles, but the entire film is in French.

This doesn't matter in the least, because the raw emotions are the same in any language and you see souls and hearts break in pieces. It's not a jaunty, happy little film by any means.

The storyline unfolds throughout, but the jist of it without giving too much away is the Scott-Thomas's character has just been released from a long prison sentence and is trying to rebuild her life. She was sent down for killing her own son.

What on earth could possess her to do this? As she begins to warm up and open up, we find out, and we see the sheer, unadulterated pain and grief of a loving mother, which time never heals.

A compelling, moving film which I couldn't recommend more.
1616 Comments| 61 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
French film has a tradition of featuring bourgeoises whose lives are very different from most of us. They have safe jobs that permit them many of the luxuries of life, they discuss politics and the arts over dinner, and they spend the weekends in the country in lovely old country houses; life, in short, has built them to worry about something less mundane than everyone else. Out of this soup of convention pops a chewy bit in the shape of Kristin Scott Thomas, a woman with a Terrible Past encountering the difficulties of getting a job as an ex-con and to re-entering non-institutional life. It is as if Mike Leigh has invaded Eric Rohmer. Scott Thomas does very well at projecting repressed anger, sadness and fragility against a background of normality. She wanders along holding up a mirror to the rest of the players; the tragic policeman always searching for the Orinocco, the pathetic boss encouraging teamwork with a threat, the liberal brother-in-law with more than a hint of the Daily Mail in his responses. The denouement is satisfying but charged with emotion and played by the two sisters to perfection.
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on 7 March 2009
Kristin Scott Thomas is amazing in this utterly fascinating movie about two sisters Juliette played by Kristen and Lea, a part made for the understated Elsa Zylberstein who have to get to know each other all over again after 15 years apart.

Juliette has been in prison, she murdered her six year old son Pierre and since his death she has not spoken of him but what she did caused her family to turn against her, other than her younger sister Lea who wants to mend bridges and make up for lost time.

However her time in prison has left Juliette in limbo, she is now a silent and self contained woman who no one at first can touch her, not even her younger sister Lea who has offered her a home much to the consternation of her husband Luc who worries about his two adopted daughters and his mute father, an enigmatic man who has suffered a series of strokes and now can no longer speak but he still can read and is much loved by all the family.

Juliette's slow emergence from her imprisonment, both physical and mental is a painful transition for everyone, from her wary brother-in-law, to her niece P'tit Lys who has a child's guile and understanding of human nature without even knowing it.

There is some genuine humour in the movie, like when Juliette sleeps with a man she meets in a bar and is dismissive of his sexual prowess, but best of all is the tense moment when she tells everyone at a dinner table she has been in prison for 15 years for murder, everyone but her sister, brother-in-law and a friend of her sister's roar with laughter, thinking she is being droll and sarcastic. Michel, played by the excellent, Laurent Grévill is Juliette's sister friend who forms a romantic attachment to Juliette for he alone understands what Juliette is going through and bit by bit we begin to understand why Juliette committed such a horrific crime.

This is not a sentimental film, but it is beautifully crafted and very human, and this makes it all the watchable.

Not everyone likes subtitles but I am glad they did not dub this particular film as it would have detracted from the film's nuance and beauty. Be prepared for an emotive ending that leaves you surprisingly satisfied as the two sisters finally let each other know how much they love each other and how a seemingly wanton act of violence actually was a powerful act of love.
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on 24 November 2009
This is great stuff! A brilliant, mesmerising film. Kristin Scott Thomas is always good (Four Weddings and a Funeral, The English Patient et al) and here she is on her most dramatic top form. A woman doctor, deeply unhappy, returns from a long prison sentence and reunites with her sister. She struggles to re-cover common ground from their shared childhood and to re-establish herself back in society. (I won't mention her crime other than to say it is sad in the extreme). This film is intelligent and compassionate. It's typical French cinema with no time wasted between important scenes by anything gratuitous. The film is well sub-titled in English and does not hinder ones following of the screenplay.
All involved in the production of this movie do a great job. It is a super movie -two thumbs up and five stars all the way for this one!
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