In the closing days of World War I, Mathilde Donnay's greatest fight is about to begin as she goes in search of the man she loves, a man she has been told has died in A Very Long Engagement. If Manech were dead, Mathilde would know. Mathilde (Audrey Tautou--Amélie) receives word that her fiancé, Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), is one of five soldiers court-martialed for intentionally wounding themselves and pushed out to an almost-certain death in the no-man's land armies. Unwilling to accept that Manech is lost to her forever, Mathilde begins an extraordinary journey to discover the fate of her lover. At each turn, Mathilde encounters another, different, variation of how Manech must have spent his final days ... yet Mathilde never gives up and never lets go.]]>
A Very Long Engagement
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War is not glorious. Especially if you're Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), a young French soldier convicted by a military court, along with four others, of committing self-mutilation with the intent of escaping service in the front lines of World War I. The punishment is grotesque. Rather than death by firing squad, the five are forced over the top of the most forward trench and into the No Man's Land between the French and German positions - there to die by whatever bullet, mortar shell, or bomb strikes them down. The subsequent deaths of all five are attested to. Letters are sent to surviving family members by the French authorities saying their boys died in battle. This was in 1917.
Mathilde (Audrey Tatou) was Manech's fiancée when he marched off to war. She's also crippled in one leg after having been afflicted with polio at a very young age. In 1920, she's contacted by a dying survivor of the war, ex-Sergeant Esperanza (Jean-Pierre Becker), who'd been in charge of the provost detail assigned to escort the five condemned men to the front trench, as well as act as carrier of the last missive each was permitted to write home. He tells Mathilde of their bizarre fate, and gives her their last letters, which he's kept since the war's end. Using these and the veteran's story to provide clues, Mathilde embarks on a lengthy search for the truth behind Manech's death with the help of a private investigator (Ticky Holgado). Interviewing friends, family members, and lovers of Marech's four condemned companions, as well as other soldiers present in the trench, Mathilde needs to answer the question, "Is Manech truly dead?Read more ›
Mathilde (Audrey Tautou) is a pretty young girl who was left crippled by polio, and is being raised by her uncle and aunt. Before World War I, she fell in love with a boy called Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), but he was sent to the war and killed. Three years later, Mathilde gets a mysterious letter with shocking news: Manech was not killed in action, but condemned to death by being sent unarmed to the front lines -- and miraculously, he might still be alive.
Mathilde is determined to find her lover -- dead or alive -- and learn what really happened on that day three years ago. So she puts out ads in the papers, gathers accounts, and hires a detective to follow the cold trail. And slowly the gaps in the stories emerge, giving Mathilde clues to whether Manech died... and where he might be now.
"A Very Long Engagement" (French title: "Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles") diddles a few details from the novel, but is faithful to it in the ways that matter -- the "MMM" inscriptions, the non-linear storytelling, the horrors of World War I. In some ways, it seems almost impossible to transfer onto film without creating a pretentious mess -- but it wasn't.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet proves that "Amelie" was no fluke, but this time he relies mostly on visual artistry, rather than in magical realism. He also reminds us, by displaying the French countryside along with flashbacks of the front lines, that war is stupid and wasteful. But it's not an obvious, slam-in-your-face reminder. Like the romance, it's delicate and wistful.Read more ›
Several plots are played out through out Mathildes' search. At first you blindly follow the scenes and then slowly the stories become knitted together as you discover along with Mathilde the truth her loves circumstance. I enjoyed the interweaving of the story and the wonderful directing that held this movie together so well by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, Alien Resurrection).
Most of all, I loved the cinematography. Thank you, Bruno Delbonnel! Mr. Delbonnel (The Cat's Meow, Amelie) created the visually lush colors in this film with his wonderful talent in the art of cinematoghraphy. This film is lush and beautiful with it's fabulous color in the country scenes to it dramatic sephia effect during the war scenes. Together with Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Mr. Delbonnel has created a wonderful film and piece of art.
Finally, I'd like to mention the supporting actors associated with this film: Jodie Foster, Julie Depardieu, Marion Cotillard, Gaspard Ulliel, Tcheky Karyo, and Clovis Cornillac. This is a wonderful french film with depth, beauty, hope, and like all the French films I've seen a quirky sense of humor that enhances the wonderful art of life.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not a bad movie, but nothing really extraordinary. French with sub-titles and even has Jodie Foster in it in not a large role.Published 7 days ago by Gene D. Fitzgerald
This is a very intense love story set in World War One era France. Audrey Tautou is at her best portraying a handicapped love stricken young lady facing almost hopeless odds to... Read morePublished 8 days ago by Joe S
This buy far the most beautiful movie you will ever watch. American movies don't close. Don't miss it.Published 11 days ago by George black
Based on the novel of the same name, this is a great film. It's beautifully shot, scored, and a compelling story. It leaves you rooting for hope of the lovers to be reunited. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Anonymous Rogue
One of my very favorite films. One I'll watch over and over.Published 7 months ago by Shirley D. Cross
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