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
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 »
In a dream sequence, the main character is seen dangling from the top deck of the lighthouse which in encircled by a steel railing. In a scene moments later, the two main characters are seen running around the top deck of the lighthouse which now has a solid white wall around the deck. However, Mathilde must have never been at the lighthouse before, that's why in her dream it looks differently from the actual one. Moreover, even familiar things and places often look strange and different in our dreams. See more »
Dazzling, never before have I seen such a visually pleasing picture. Jeunet has mastered the film medium giving 'A Very Long Engagement' a unique and fairy tale like visual style. Though rushed, the fantasy romance that Jeunet paints through flashbacks is inspiring. The graphic World War I trenches, provide an excellent contrast to the simple but charming mystery that Mathilde embarks on through the film.
Although Jeunet relies heavily on Audrey Tautou's performance, it is ultimately his one of a kind visual style that emotionally ties the viewer. This said, the latter portion of 'Long Engagement' feels very rushed and isn't treated to the same elegance that so well defines the first half. There are moments in the film where the visuals far overshadow the emotional intensity intended for the scene. This is perhaps 'Long Engagements' only fault, as it becomes unbalanced. The stylized and even cartoonish artistic direction that Jeunet leans to, although brilliant seems I'll fit for this wartime drama. Even so, 'A Very Long Engagement' comes off genuine and it's mix of fantasy romance and war will let you leave the theater fulfilled.
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