A Very Long Engagement (2004) Short Review

 I never thought World War One’s brutal trench warfare could be whimsical or beautiful. I stand corrected. Only the French. Or more specifically, only Jean-Pierre Jeunet….

Jeunet (Delicatessen, City Of lost Children) has a wonderful eye for visuals; its evident in all of his films. Those visuals are also always accompanied by a light playfulness that sometimes drains the tension that the film may have. Can a film be too quirky? There are scenes that seem too serious and out of place in this fairy tale of a movie, but that flaw doesn’t overwhelm the story as it has in the director’s past films.

The story follows Mathilde, partially hobbled by polio, trying to determine the fate of her French soldier fiance after the Armistice of WWI. She holds out hope that the missing soldier is not dead (or worse).

The lovely Audrey Tautou is fantastic in the lead, teaming once again with the director (along with actor Domiique Pinon among others). I dont think there’s another actress that portrays a sense of wonder and innocence as much as she. Tautou is to innocence as Zoe Deschanel is to nervous tics.

She’s been in a few great movies and this is one of her best. It was also fun seeing Jodie Foster appear in a French film. That took me out of the film for a moment, though.

All in all, this was definitely not your typical film with a war backdrop. War films generally aren’t so fun, which is why I think the emotional impact of Tautous arduous journey is lessened a little at the end. It’s still well worth watching. It’s probably the best film from Jeunet that I’ve seen. It also made my Best 25 Films of 2004. There were many superb films in 2004, so instead of 10 I went with 25.

4.5 of 5

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One Response to “A Very Long Engagement (2004) Short Review”

  1. […] one’s meaning, but it was still fun… Loved the Leno and Reynalds cameos…) #23 A Very Long Engagement (Maybe should be a lot higher on my list, but I was distarcted by some of the director’s […]

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