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A Very Long Engagement

2004 Drama

Audrey Tautou, who rose to international stardom with the title role in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's worldwide smash Amélie, reunites with the director for this drama, set during the darkest days of World War I and its immediate aftermath. Mathilde (Tautou) is a pretty but frail young women who was left with a bad leg after a childhood bout with polio. Mathilde lives in a small French village with her Aunt Bénédicte (Chantal Neuwirth) and Uncle Sylvain (Dominique Pinon), and is engaged to marry Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), the son of a lighthouse keeper who is fighting with the army near the German front. Manech is one of five soldiers who have been accused of injuring themselves in order to be sent home; in order to discourage similar behavior among their comrades, Manech and the other soldiers are sentenced to death, and the condemned men are marched into the no man's land between the French and German lines, where they are certain to be killed. Mathilde receives word of Manech's death, but in her heart she believes that if the man she loved had been killed, she would know it and feel it. Convinced he's still alive somewhere, Mathilde hires a private detective (Ticky Holgado) shortly after the end of the war, and together they set out to find the missing Manech. Jodie Foster appears in a supporting role as a Polish expatriate living in France. more..

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Starring: Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Jean-Pierre Becker, Dominique Bettenfeld, Clovis Cornillac

Reviews

  • Hauntingly tells a story older than the Odyssey and as timely as today's body count from Iraq.

    Ruthe Stein - The San Francisco Chronicle

    29 November 2012

  • Rapturously beautiful, startlingly audacious and often very funny, the film employs many of the techniques that were used so pleasingly in "Amélie."

    Joe Morgenstern - The Wall Street Journal

    29 November 2012

  • This is a movie that considers graphic violence with a refined taste for the sensuous: Guts spill, blood spurts, corpses stink, but there is a handsome, absurdist humanity to the way Jeunet (who wrote the script with Guillaume Laurant) maps out the crossroads of human carnage and human caring.

    Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly

    29 November 2012

  • In its insistence on the centrality of the war to the collective consciousness of mankind, it's of a piece with "The English Patient," rather than "Saving Private Ryan."

    Stephen Hunter - The Washington Post

    29 November 2012

  • Jeunet brings everything together -- his joyously poetic style, the lovable Tautou, a good story worth the telling -- into a film that is a series of pleasures stumbling over one another in their haste to delight us.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    29 November 2012

Awards

  • Best Achievement in Art Direction

    Academy Awards (2005)

     
  • Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases

    American Society of Cinematographers (2005)

  • Best Film Not in the English Language

    BAFTA Awards (2005)

     
  • Best Cinematography

    Boston Society of Film Critics Awards (2004)

  • Best Foreign-Language Film

    Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards (2005)