“A Very Long Engagement” – Chris Luedtke

I find it hard to believe that A Very Long Engagement clocks in at one-hundred thirty-three minutes yet not a minute went by that didn’t totally engross me. Here we find Mathilde (Audrey Tautou) coping with the fact that she may have lost her fiancé (Gaspard Ulliel) in World War I. However, because there is no concrete evidence to suggest his death she decides to search for him until she discovers the truth.

The story is astounding, quite beautiful and hard to predict. The set of characters in this is pretty big and don’t think for a second that there’s filler just because there’s a large character count. Although we are introduced to a group of characters in the beginning, they are expanded on and twisted. Every character plays a delicate part to help push the movie towards its gorgeous finale, even the small ones. A full attention is required in order to get everything that goes on. Left and right new revelations come about meaning that if you need a bathroom break, press the pause button.

Performances don’t get much better than this. Audrey Tautou steals the show and displays yet again that she is one of the finest actresses of her time as she puts on a powerful display of vulnerability as well as strength. I couldn’t help but keep a constant hope for her character because she was so real. Her displays of emotion and the feeling of innocent love really made her the show stopper. Gaspard Ulliel does well as her lost boyfriend although I feel it would have been difficult to layer his character. He always had the same look. Also, watch out for a Jodie Foster appearance in here. This is probably the last good movie she did before the horror that was Flightplan.

The cinematography is just georgous here. If you’ve seen Amélie you know what to expect from a Jean-Pierre Jeunet flick. The coloration shifts between innocent warms and ashen war-torn grays. There’s a gritty sort of beauty to it. The first ten minutes of this are like a tack hammer to the visual senses. Violence just completely erupts and filth of the trenches is brought out. To compliment this, immediately we are thrown into a warm color setting and a certain comfort zone sinks in. Camera work just flat out rocks. One very notable scene would be the bomb dropping in on the Zeppelin. Without ruining it too much for you…well, friggin awesome!

Basically, this is what we call in the business “some good stuff.” A lot of directors nowadays could take some cues from Jeunet’s originality in his displays of characters and plot drive. The overall story shows that it is motivated by more than just events but rather events within the major event, something I’ve found to be extraordinary and delightful. To accompany this is the struggle for Mathilde to hold on within the positive and negative revelations. Jeunet has no problem making you believe that her long lost love may be alive one minute and then dead the next.

For those willing to pop this in, you’ll be pleasantly delighted with it. Don’t expect some overly sappy romance story but do be prepared for a character driven mystery that’ll keep you guessing.

Rating: ★★★★

-Chris Luedtke

One Response to ““A Very Long Engagement” – Chris Luedtke”

  1. A Very Long Engagement (2004) Says:

    [...] Luedtke at Passport Cinema writes, “Basically, this is what we call in the business ‘some good stuff.’ A lot of [...]

Leave a Reply