Monday, 21 September 2020
A Very Long Engagement
Thursday, 27 January 2005 17:44


French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet ("Amelie"), and his beautiful muse Audrey Tautou work magic once again, bringing us a different sort of love story.

World War I is taking its deadly toll on France. Five desperate men self-inflict bullet wounds in their hands. As punishment they are sent into no-man's-land to be killed in the crossfire. The youngest of these men is Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), a fresh-faced boy who has left behind his fiancée Mathilde (Tautou). Not believing her lover to be dead, Mathilde becomes entrenched in an investigation to find out what happened, making some surprising discoveries along the way.

A true epic of storytelling this poetic movie combines romance, action, mystery, and even a fair bit of comedy. Much of the film takes place on the battle field and these scenes, though violent, are very well done! Tempered by the intriguing story the violence isn't as "in-your-face" as it is with the slew of American war movies.

As the mystery deepens, there are strong elements of film-noire. The audience is definitely kept guessing. Pay close attention, as there are a large number of characters, and everyone is important! The director must have realized that it could get confusing though, because when the threads start to untangle it is made very clear who is who.

Love undeniably plays the starring role. The unbreakable bond between Mathilde and Manech is uncovered slowly in several poignant scenes as they grow from children to young adults. It is here that Audrey Tautou shines. Her soulful black eyes tell the story better than any script can.

Unfortunately great foreign films like this are not often given wide release in our province. Even access to our own Canadian movies is almost non-existent. A film has to really be making waves elsewhere, for it to be shown here. We all love Hollywood movies, but it's nice to have our viewing injected with a little different flavor sometimes. This beautiful movie is a must see. If you are lucky enough to have access to "A Very Long Engagement" in your area please go see it.

As my rental recommendations, the endearing Jeunet/Tautou film "Amelie" is a wonderful treat. Also, in a similar vein is another French film, "Jeux D'enfants" (or in English "Love Me if You Dare"). Both of these excellent movies are available on DVD.