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A Very Long Engagement (2004)

Un long dimanche de fiançailles (original title)
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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.

Director:

Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Writers:

Sébastien Japrisot (novel), Jean-Pierre Jeunet (story and adaptation) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 33 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Audrey Tautou ... Mathilde
Gaspard Ulliel ... Manech
Dominique Pinon ... Sylvain
Chantal Neuwirth Chantal Neuwirth ... Bénédicte
André Dussollier ... Pierre-Marie Rouvières
Ticky Holgado ... Germain Pire
Marion Cotillard ... Tina Lombardi
Dominique Bettenfeld ... Ange Bassignano
Jodie Foster ... Elodie Gordes
Jean-Pierre Darroussin ... Benjamin Gordes (as Jean Pierre Darroussin)
Clovis Cornillac ... Benoît Notre-Dame
Jean-Pierre Becker Jean-Pierre Becker ... Esperanza (as Jean Pierre Becker)
Denis Lavant ... Six-Soux
Jérôme Kircher Jérôme Kircher ... Bastoche
Albert Dupontel ... Célestin Poux
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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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France | USA

Language:

French | German | Corsican

Release Date:

14 January 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Very Long Engagement See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$47,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$7,969,526 (France), 29 October 2004

Opening Weekend USA:

$101,749, 28 November 2004, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$6,167,817, 27 February 2005

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$70,115,868, 28 April 2005
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Disqualified to compete in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival because it was shown outside its country of origin, regardless of the fact that a Paris court ruled that the movie was too American. See more »

Goofs

In the story of Manech's self inflicted wound, a tank can be seen taking part in the French attack. This type of tank, the Renault FT, did not see combat until March 1918. See more »

Quotes

Sylvain: [after the mailman rides his bike into the house] Make yourself at home! At Christmas, come down the chimney!
See more »

Connections

Featured in 1,001 Movies You Must See (Before You Die) (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Peer Gynt: Suite Number 1, Opus 46
Composed by Edvard Grieg
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Very Long Search for a Loved One
21 December 2004 | by Ralph Michael SteinSee 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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