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
One of the five sings a portion of La Chanson de Craonne, a famous French army song of protest against the horrors of the war, when he is out in no man's land. Trouble is the attack on Craonne in the Nivelle Offensive, which led to the song, occurred in April 1917, after the events in the movie. Words and tune logically came after that too. See more »
Well, I've never written an IMDb review before (though I read them all the time), but I feel compelled to write one now.. And don't worry, I won't give any spoilers or mention anything which will ruin the movie in any way. I hate when people do that.
This movie is PURE POETRY. I'm not going to claim I'm some great movie buff although I've seen a fair amount of movies, mostly independent and foreign, but "A Very Long Engagement" is one of the best I've ever seen. The whole film has a very dreamlike aura to it and the colors are great. The only other Jeunet film I've seen was Amelie, and while that movie is one of my favorites, this one is right up there with it.
The subject matter here isn't my forte by any means. Honestly, when I read the comparisons to "Saving Private Ryan", I winced a bit. SPR is a great movie, no doubt, but it's just not my cup of tea. What makes this such a strange paradox is that the war scenes in "A Very Long Engagement" are possibly even more graphic and outrageous than those of SPR, but it works just because Jeunet adds his surreal touch to everything. Of course, I would certainly call this a romance themed movie much more than a war themed movie, but it blends everything very smoothly and naturally. It is a film both men and women will enjoy equally. You really have to see this movie. I mean, I was simply floored. The two and a half hour playtime flew by, not a single dull moment in the entire film.
A few things: Someone mentioned earlier that this movie starts off by throwing out a lot of names and it can be very confusing if you, like me, aren't the best at remembering all these names (especially French names), but it seems the director figured that this confusion might occur so as the movie progresses it's almost impossible to not eventually remember who is who because we are reminded so often (especially with flashbacks) of who is who. It's really not a big problem at all, just try your best to remember the names and which faces they belong to.
Another thing, I found it sort of hard to really care much about the relationship between the two main characters at first simply because Audrey Tautou's character is all alone wondering about her fiancé, but as the movie goes to periodic flashbacks of the two in youth, then in their teenage years, I saw so much beauty in it all. And the way these scenes unfold are incredibly spellbinding... Easily putting anything from Amelie to shame. That's another point I wanted to make. Jeunet's style seems so much more natural and mature here as compared to the somewhat forced 'weirdness' (or quirkiness) of Amelie. This is such a masterful film. If I hadn't seen the last showing of the night I would have seen it again tonight.
The ending was mesmerizing, paralyzing, and when the credits came on not a single person even got up for a few minutes. I left the theater and walked around downtown just thinking about it all. I can't say enough great things about this film. I cannot wait for this to come out on DVD.
And in the event Mr. Jeunet sees this, thank you! Truly a film I'll think about for a long time to come, and one I'll be recommending to everyone.
If you're looking for a full length, meaty film to sink your teeth, heart and brain into for a night and walk out of the theater feeling completely full and satisfied, this is the film. I've read IMDb for years, but this movie was enough to make me register and post my first review. Think about it.
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