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.
Audio commentary from director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (in French, subtitled)
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
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