Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Jean-Pierre Becker, Dominique Bettenfeld, Clovis Cornillac, Marion Cotillard, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Dominique Pinon, Tchéky Karyo and Jodie Foster

Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Running Time:
134 mins

Out to buy on DVD 13/06/05

"...Mathilde would know"

Two years after the end of the Great War, Mathilde (Tautou) is holding out hope that her fiancée Manech (Ulliel) is still alive. Even though he was sent over-the-top at the Somme and reported dead by the French army, Mathilde knows in her heart that he survived. Not wanting to give up hope, she decides to start her own investigation and she finds that the details surrounding Manech's disappearance might not be as straightforward as she has been told.

The director and star of the sensational "Amelie" collaborate again and this time they bring their Gallic flair to the First World War.

Based on the novel by Sébastien Japrisot, 'Un long dimanche de fiançailles' (A Very Long Engagement) combines Jeunet's visual flair with great story telling to bring us a tale of mystery, laughter, vengeance and love. Add to this the talents of Audrey Tautou, an exceptional supporting cast and a sense of humour that ripples through all of Jeunet's movies and you have a film that is totally delightful.

At the heart of the picture is a story that will grip you from the start. This is a detective mystery that sees Mathilde trying to piece together exactly what happened to her beloved Manech. As she makes a discovery, we see those events play out on screen in flashback giving you more clues to what has happened at the Somme and in the two years since the end of the Great War. This instantly draws you into the story, as you follow Mathilde's adventure, meeting new characters and hearing their story and how it connects to Manech.

Driving the movie is the performance of the exceptional Audrey Tautou as Mathilde. As well as been extremely beautiful, she has the talent to match her looks. While some may argue that her character is very similar to Amelie but there are noticeable differences to make Mathilde her own character. She is tenacious and driven, never giving up on her quest or her belief that Manech is still alive. This is an ideal role to showcase Tautou talents and proves that she is an actress to watch.

She is joined by a very good supporting cast. Gaspard Ulliel plays the shell shocked Manech with great aplomb. This is a confident performance from the young, up and coming actor, making Manech's fear and fall into madness very believable. The only thing that is keeping him together is the thought of seeing his beloved Mathilde again. The rest of the cast is made of typical larger than life characters that seem to inhabit all of Jeunet's films. Jeunet stalwart Dominique Pinon is as good as ever and rest of the cast are equally as good and memorable. There is also a noticeable turn from Jodie Foster, who copes with the French dialogue extremely well.

This is another fine example of how good a filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet is. The movie is a visual spectacle, filled with glorious colour, enchanting scenery and the grim reality of the trenches. You could place every image in a picture frame and put it on your wall, the production design and cinematography is that good. Combine this with an engaging story and some memorable characters and you have a great movie that shows the ravages of war and strength of the human heart.

Disc 1:
Audio commentary from director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (in French, subtitled)
Disc 2:
Deleted scenes with optional audio commentary from Jean-Pierre Jeunet
'The Making Of A Very Long Engagement' documentary (75 mins)
'Paris In The 1920s' featurette (14 mins)
'Before The Explosion': a documentary about the Zeppelin explosion (14 mins)


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