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 »
The rural Breton cottage of 1916 has a telephone (which is probably unusual for the time), while outside views of the cottage reveal no telephone poles or wires. See more »
[peeling an apple]
If I don't break the peel, Manech is alive.
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This movie is better than "Amelie" (which I loved). The story is intricately plotted so people with a "Seed of Chucky" attention span will be overwhelmed. It must be the only movie to combine amazing combat scenes with romance, comedy and a complex mystery puzzle. Audrey Tatou is a goddess. Jeunet (the director) is like a combination of Chaplin (the romance and comedy); Hitchcock (the incredible camera work and storytelling); and Spielberg (the battle scenes and emotion).
As to some of the comments I have seen on this site:
There were French people complaining that people were speaking too fast. Gee, I don't speak French, but I can read subtitles just fine, so it was not a problem.
Some people complained that it was too long. Then there were people that complained it was too short. Like Goldilocks, I thought it was just right.
There were those that said that Tatou can't act. Audrey's performance was nuanced people, she's no Jim Carrey. Some said she was just playing Amelie again. Wrong. Amelie was a good-hearted but wishy-washy spirit who was afraid to take any action in her own life. Mathilde is just the opposite, somebody who believes so strongly in her convictions that she is able to follow what her heart tells her in spite of all available evidence and every single person she meets. In fact, every actor, no matter how small the role, turns in a great performance (I'm especially partial to the great Dominique Pinon, who plays Audrey's uncle).
There were complaints about the sex. There are a couple of brief shots of people having sex in the introduction, very similar to Amelie. Plus you get to see Jodie Foster doing the nasty from several directions. If that bothers you, go see Polar Express instead. Personally (especially in light of the rumors of Jodie being a lesbian) I am in favor of the sex scenes. There is also a shot of Audrey's fabulous naked booty, which justifies the price of admission all by itself.
Someone else complained that it was too jarring switching between the horrific WWI trench warfare scenes and the idyllic 1920s Paris. Argghhhh, that's the point!
Then there was the complaint about seeing a scene or shot from a different perspective later in the movie. Have you heard of a story called "Rashomon"? The idea is that you are experiencing the events from the viewpoint of different characters. This is cleverly done and never superfluous. At least one time you are quite startled by new information revealed by that shift in perspective.
All in all, this is a movie that really does have everything. If it were an American movie it would win best picture, best actress, best supporting actress (Jodie still might get nominated), best cinematography, best script from a novel, and best director. As it is scheduled for a Christmas national release, hopefully a lot of people will see it.
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