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

R  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Romance  |  27 October 2004 (France)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 58,862 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 235 user | 184 critic | 39 from Metacritic.com

Tells the story of a young woman's relentless search for her fiancé, who has disappeared from the trenches of the Somme during World War One.

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(novel), (story), 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 21 wins & 27 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Chantal Neuwirth ...
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Dominique Bettenfeld ...
Ange Bassignano
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Benjamin Gordes
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Jean-Pierre Becker ...
Esperanza
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Six-Soux
Jérôme Kircher ...
Bastoche
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Storyline

Five desperate French soldiers during The Battle of the Somme shoot themselves, either by accident or with purpose, in order to be invalided back home. Having been "caught" a court-martial convenes and determines punishment to be banishment to No Man's Land with the objective of having the Germans finish them off. In the process of telling this tale each man's life is briefly explored along with their next of kin as Methilde, fiancée to one of the men, tries to determine the circumstances of her lover's death. This task is not made any easier for her due to a bout with polio as a child. Along the way she discovers the heights and depths of the human soul. Written by Liam McBain

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Never let go

Genres:

Drama | Mystery | Romance | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| |

Release Date:

27 October 2004 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A Very Long Engagement  »

Box Office

Budget:

$47,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$94,884 (Hong Kong) (1 April 2005)

Gross:

$200,542 (Hong Kong) (8 April 2005)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At the point where Mathilde is asked either by her uncle or her aunt about the fate of Manech, she responds that he might be held prisoner by the Germans, then he escaped and met a German woman with large breasts. This could either be a reference to La Grande Illusion (1937) or to La cuisine au beurre (1963). See more »

Goofs

In the opening scene a soldier lights a cigarette with a lamp, but it doesn't burn. He smokes it as if it burns. See more »

Quotes

[repeated line]
Mathilde: Ashes to ashes. Ashes to ashes.
See more »

Connections

References Saving Private Ryan (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Peer Gynt: Suite Number 1, Opus 46
Composed by Edvard Grieg
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User Reviews

 
A Very Long Search for a Loved One
21 December 2004 | by (New York, N.Y.) – See all my reviews

Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet in the hit, "Amelie," employed scintillating Audrey Tatou, the most expressive young French actress in film today, to portray a whimsical and charming girl-woman in search of love. With her now as a young French rural ingénue searching for years after The Great War (aka World War I or, even better, The War to End All Wars) for a probably killed fiancé, Jeunet crafted a moving, often penetrating story centering on the charnel carnage of trench warfare.

Lame as a single-digit-age child because of polio and living with relatives who took over after her parents were killed in an accident, Mathilde is befriended by Manech (Gasparad Ulliel). Mathilde, a loner separated from her peers by her disability, and Manech become closest friends. Late adolescence brings love and lust, commitment and an engagement.

But in 1917 the French Army needed fresh meat for the bloody maw that was warfare on the almost terminally static Western Front. And off went Manech along with many others who never returned.

Employing the harshest discipline of any Western army in modern history, the French Army (which gave the world the Dreyfus trial and in World War I actually used decimation to punish mutinous regiments and divisions) sentences Manech and four others to be cast into No Man's Land without weapons, without any possibility of being allowed to return but with the macabre requirement that they respond to morning roll call if alive (not a good bet). Their alleged crime was self-mutilation to get out of combat (what we call in the American military, "SIW," Self-Inflicted Wounds).

Mathilde in 1920, steely faithful in a moving and believable way, searches fervently for her fiancé whom she believes "must" be alive somewhere, somehow. Employing artful stratagems and enlisting the willing, the paid and the dragooned, her search takes her to cities and battlefields. With resort to a child's employment of magical thinking she frequently whispers tests about what will happen in immediate, ordinary circumstances with one result "proving" for her that Manech is still alive. Tatou makes this self-deception appealing and infinitely sad.

As Spielberg did in "Saving Private Ryan," Jeunet brings the immediacy of the meat-grinding battlefield to the viewer over and over again through superb if sometimes difficult to watch cinematography. Of course no film truly captures the desperation, the epidemic fatality that gripped and demoralized the French Army after years of immobile, set-piece fighting. One needs to read Robert Graves or Siegfried Sassoon for that. But Jeunet has brought to the screen the most realistic World War I trench scenes since "All Quiet on the Western Front" (the 1930 original, of course).

Tatou is an acting tsunami here, alternately beguiling and tense and always hopeful while fighting despair. Expect to see her in many fine roles in the future. She's marvelous.

The entire cast is excellent-few are known in the U.S.

A remarkable movie with an ending that will satisfy and disturb at the same time.

Tatou and Jeunet deserve Oscar nominations.

10/10


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