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A Very Long Engagement

Never Let Go 

Year: 2004 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from A Very Long Engagement

Jean-Pierre Jeunet follows up his 2001 classic Amélie with this beautifully filmed and well-acted romantic drama. In fact, its mixture of styles and atmospheres give it the originality of being a mystery, a love-story, a quirky comedy and a war-movie. Audrey Tautou stars as Mathilde, a plucky girl in post-World War I France, trying to track down her fiancé Manech (Ulliel); one of five soldiers convicted of cowardice and sent to almost certain death in No Man’s Land. The trench sequences are grimly involving, but Tautou’s memorable performance charms the audience more than enough to keep you entertained for the duration of the movie.

Despite its length, this film is never dull, with the fast-paced mystery element frequently throwing you off-track, whilst intermittent sub-plots and guest appearances (including a tragic cameo from Jodie Foster) inject yet more intrigue into the emotionally driven journey of Mathilde. It’s impossible not to care about her quest for the truth; against all odds, and as shadowy as the journey becomes, Jeunet, the optimist, shows us a world of light.

Inventive and lyrical, A Very Long Engagement is a joyous contradiction in terms: a war-torn romantic comedy. If you liked Amélie, chances are you’ll love this.

Mark Gibson

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Summer Term (35mm)