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A Very Long Engagement (Un long dimanche de fiançailles) (2004)

  Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Written by: Sébastien Japrisot, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Guillaume Laurant
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel
Links: A Very Long Engagement on the IMDb, Official site
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 9.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"A delight" - a review by pearly

Watching A Very Long Engagement was, for me, like slipping on a comfy pair of tracky-dacks, except more classy. After having fallen in love with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's last film, Amélie (2001), a couple of years ago, and seeing that he had yet again cast Audrey Tautou, who is surely one of the most gorgeous women on the planet, I got butterflies in my stomach just thinking about how great this film could be.

It was definitely a concern that this film would ruin the magic, but Jeunet has enough aces up his sleeve that I felt certain this would not be the case. A Very Long Engagement is similar to Amélie in many ways. Jeunet has a very distinct storytelling style, and many of the quirky elements unique to him are present in both films (this led to the comfort factor I spoke of in my intro). What is amazing about Jeunet though, is that, even with his similar techniques, he manages to create very different films on each outing.

In the case of A Very Long Engagement, there is a lot more seriousness than there was with Amélie. The film is, after all, set during World War One, and many of the scenes are of war. Regardless, Jeunet manages to marry all the different facets of this tale together into one very cohesive piece, and I didn't feel that the quirkiness was out of place (as a friend suggested it may have been).

Tautou plays Mathilde, a young woman who has been a loner for much of her life, save for her extremely close friendship with Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), a kind and innocent boy who she has known since they were children. The pair become engaged, but soon after, Manech is drafted into the war, and circumstances lead him to be left, presumed dead, and in shame. Mathilde, upon hearing scant pieces of information about Manech, refuses to believe that he is dead, and she begins a long search for her best friend and husband-to-be.

One of my favourite things about Jeunet is the way he incorporates repetition into his films. In this film, Mathilde takes to placing bets inside her head, things like "If I beat that car to the corner, then Manech will come back to me alive", the results of which she believes as though they were scientific fact. This provides a fascinating view of the character of Mathilde, and is such a simple idea, but executed wonderfully.

With a cast containing many of the same actors as Amélie (many in much smaller roles this time around), this film had me enthralled throughout. It has renewed my interest in Jeunet, and I really will have to go back and watch some of his older films soon. Bravo!

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 20 Jan 2005

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