Un Long dimanche de Fiançailles aka A Very Long Engagement (2004) – 7/10 World War I period romantic drama Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie review

Cast / crew
Producer: Francis Boespflug
Producer: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Executive Producer: Bill Gerber
Audrey Tautou: Mathilde
Writer (Original Novel): Sébastien Japrisot
Writer (Scenario): Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Writer (Scenario): Guillaume Laurant
Writer (Dialogue): Guillaume Laurant
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Gaspard Ulliel: Manech
Florence Thomassin:

Un Long dimanche de Fiançailles

A Very Long Engagement (2004)

Certain that her fiancée did not die during The Great War, Mathilde tries to find out what happened to him and why he didn’t come home.

7/10

Jeunet proves that there’s room for another great film about war. This time it’s the First World War and Jeunet supplies so many great ideas that 7 stars seems just a little stingy. However, the film does have a lull at about half-distance as Audrey Tautou’s search continues to be fruitless and going in circles before settling on a direction and storming off in it. The movie looks absolutely astonishing both in photography and in framing and consistently atmospheric visual effects.  Jeunet’s brilliance is in the details. For example, the movie features a postman who delivers the mail to Audrey Tautou. A throwaway part which Jeunet’s transforms into a joyous repeated gag ("When I see gravel, I make it a point of arriving in style.") with a great punchline thanks to a gravel path. The stories of the men who had mutilated themselves in the utterly brilliant opening act of the movie is told with real impact. How the men mutilated themselves isn’t really that important to the story (they all damaged a hand using a gun) but the details of how they did it are important to Jeunet; the atmosphere and interest of these scenes is undeniable. A lesser filmmaker might easily have considered that we should get to the star of the movie, Audrey Tautou, and the main story as soon as possible but Jeunet is certainly not a lesser filmmaker.  In a legion of absolutely stunning shots perhaps the most striking is the field of flax when Six-Sous is called up. This is a field that was grown out of season for just a single shot in the movie. When the camera cranes up, an instant and strong wind billows through the field and blows the straw off Six-Sous’s wagon. You could probably spend an entire career contemplating the brilliance of this movie. Generously, Jeunet acknowledges his influences in the brilliant commentary but this film is unmistakably his work.

This movie contains adult dialogue, mild swear words and graphic violence, extremely unpleasant and gory scenes and sex scenes, nudity.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

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