A Very Long Engagement (2004)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB

Original title:  Un Long Dimanche De Fiancailles

France/USA, 2004.  2003 Productions, Warner Bros., Tapioca Films, TF1 Films Production, Canal+, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Région Ile-de-France, Région Bretagne, Région Poitou-Charentes, Gerber Pictures.  Story and adaptation by Jean-Pierre Laurent, , dialogue by Guillaume Laurant, based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Just after World War I, an orphan girl (Amelie‘s ) believes that the orphan boy she has loved since childhood () didn’t die on the battlefield as reported and is still alive waiting to be found. She investigates the lives of those who shared a trench with him and follows a spiderweb of a mystery, all the while fearing with absolute dread the possibility that it is simply a caprice of her mind and that he really is dead.

This exquisite film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet is his absolute masterpiece, a fantastic combination of touching romance, horrific war drama and Clouzot-worthy mystery, led along by Tautou’s sterling performance and a host of colourful supporting characters (none the least of which include Jodie Foster, who gets to show off her French skills). As with all Jeunet’s films, the visuals are fantastic, with colourful cinematography and detail-perfect sets and costumes that bring the period to life with vivid imagination, but it is the emotional content that really makes this one soar.

The romance isn’t drippy but is nestled safely in a powerful story about the tragic reality of war and the effect it has on the chain of our existence, augmented by a healthy sense of humour (“Doggie Fart, Gladdens My Heart!”) that buoys the experience in reality. Hope is the only ally against the enemy here, and when it is taken away it is the greatest adversary of them all.

Academy Award Nominations:  Best Cinematography; Best Art Direction

European Film Award Best European Production Designer
Nominations: Best European Actress (Audrey Tautou); Best European Cinematographer; Best European Editor

Golden Globe Award Nomination:  Best Foreign Language Film


2 thoughts on “A Very Long Engagement (2004)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s