Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Very Long Engagement

aka Un long dimanche de fiancialles
Jean-Pierre Jeunet, France, 2004 (9.2*)
One of the best French films in recent years stars Audrey Tautou as Mathilde, whose fiance, Gaspard Ulliel, a Cèsar award winner, is serving at the front in WW1. This film of the novel by Sebastian Japrisot is one of the best yet made about this war, along with All Quiet on the Western Front and Kubrick's Paths of Glory; some even prefer it over Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan as a modern war film. I would have to admit that this film is more surprising, more innovative, and interesting, to me at least.

Jeunet deftly blends a romance, a mystery, and a war story by constantly shifting from one character to another as Mathilde searches for her fiance. At times the screen is split, and we see Mathilde's fantasies, along with events happening at other locales, to other characters.

This is such a major film that Oscar® winners Jodie Foster and Marion Cotillard each play supporting characters, with Foster speaking French. Cotillard is very effective as a vindictive lover out for revenge on all who wronged her man. One unforgettable scene has her using mechanical ingenuity as a weapon.

Well-deserved Oscar® nominations for art direction and cinematography (it won the American Society of Cinematographers award) makes me wonder why it received no nomination for foreign language film; the BAFTA awards did not make this same mistake. This has the feel of all great war epics, without being overlong at just 133 minutes. One would be hard pressed to find a more powerful WW1 film.

It won 16 awards overall, five Cèsars in France, losing best picture there to Games of Love and Chance. Awards page at IMDB

1 comments:

Romance Movies October 17, 2010 at 1:56 PM  

All I have to say is that this is a such great and wonderful romantic movie. "Amelie" and "A long term engagement" are one of my favorite french movies.

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.



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