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
Jean-Pierre Jeunet originally wanted to cast Dominique Pinon as Germain Pire the private eye and Ticky Holgado as uncle Sylvain. However, Holgado had been diagnosed with cancer and the studio refused to insure him. Therefore, Jeunet decided to switch the actors and did not regret his decision afterward. As Holgado became more and more ill, he began to have trouble concentrating and remembering his lines. Jeunet prepared a rough cut of the movie for Holgado to see, but Ticky passed on before he could do so. See more »
Mathilde was born on January 1, 1900. At least twice in the course of the film we are told that Manech is only 1 year older than her. However, the voiceover at the beginning as Manech is being led through the trench with the other prisoners in January 1917 informs us that Manech is "five months shy of 20," putting his birth date in June of 1897 and making him two and a half years older than Mathilde.
On the other hand, he could have lied on his real age in order to be conscripted - the voice-over citing actual records, Manech could have insisted to be sent, and had his age modified on records. See more »
[after climbing out of her wheelchair]
Miracles don't just happen in Lourdes, you know.
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It is almost insulting to compare this film to Amelie Poulain. Yes it's the same crew, yes it's the same director and yes, Audrey Tautou almost plays the same character. But give JP Jeunet a break, it's part of HIS style. Would you blame Beethoven because his symphonies kinda sounded the same?
It is at times gritty, with its very tough depictions of the Great War, and at times light and naive. It all follows a very complicated storyline which is, I would have to admit, the only weakness in this otherwise perfect movie. With so many characters and so many plot elements, some people may feel a bit lost, specially toward the end. But this is of lesser concern as the audience will still follow the main idea : a quest to find a loved one. So even through all the intricacies of the subplots, the arc story (and its finale) always remain on the horizon.
To put it short, the movie is a masterpiece. The acting is strong, the scenes are breathtaking and overall, so much attention has been put to details that it feels like a labor of love more than a big production movie. I truly think that if French cinema was not so locked into producing crappy talkative movies about losers and failures, it could come up with a lot more movies as poignant as Engagement is.
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