A Very Long Engagement
|A Very Long Engagement|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jean-Pierre Jeunet|
|Produced by||Francis Boespflug
|Screenplay by||Jean-Pierre Jeunet
|Based on||Un long dimanche de fiançailles
by Sébastien Japrisot
|Narrated by||Florence Thomassin|
|Music by||Angelo Badalamenti|
|Edited by||Hervé Schneid|
|Distributed by||Warner Independent Pictures|
A Very Long Engagement (French: Un long dimanche de fiançailles) is a 2004 French romantic war film, co-written and directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou. It is a fictional tale about a young woman's desperate search for her fiancé who might have been killed during World War I. It was based on a novel of the same name, written by Sebastien Japrisot, first published in 1991.
The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction and the Academy Award for Best Cinematography at the Oscars. Marion Cotillard won the César Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.
Five French soldiers are convicted of self-mutilation in order to escape military service during World War I. They are condemned to face near certain death in the no man's land between the French and German trench lines. It appears that all of them were killed in a subsequent battle, but Mathilde, the fiancée of one of the soldiers, refuses to give up hope and begins to uncover clues as to what actually took place on the battlefield. She is all the while driven by the constant reminder of what her fiancé had carved into one of the bells of the church near their home, MMM for Manech Aime Mathilde (Manech Loves Mathilde; a pun on the French word aime, which is pronounced like the letter "M". In the English-language version, this is changed to "Manech's Marrying Mathilde").
Along the way, she discovers the brutally corrupt system used by the French government to deal with those who tried to escape the front. She also discovers the stories of the other men who were sentenced to the no man's land as a punishment. She, with the help of a private investigator, attempts to find out what happened to her fiancé. The story is told both from the point of view of the fiancée in Paris and the French countryside—mostly Brittany—of the 1920s, and through flashbacks to the battlefield.
Eventually Mathilde finds out her fiance is alive, but he suffers from amnesia. He fails to identify even his adoptive mother. Seeing Mathilde, Manech seems to be oblivious of her. However, he still expresses concern for her when he notices her polio stricken legs, asking her "does it hurt when you walk ?" as he did when they first met. At this, Mathilde sits on the garden chair silently watching Manech with tears in her eyes and smile on her lips.
- Audrey Tautou - Mathilde Donnay
- Gaspard Ulliel - Manech Langonnet, Mathilde's fiancé
- Dominique Pinon - Sylvain, Mathilde's uncle
- Chantal Neuwirth - Bénédicte, Mathilde's aunt
- Jean-Pierre Becker - Sergeant Daniel Esperanza
- Dominique Bettenfeld - Angel Bassignano
- Clovis Cornillac - Benoît Notre-Dame
- Marion Cotillard - Tina Lombardi
- Jean-Pierre Darroussin - Corporal Benjamin "Biscotte" Gordes
- Julie Depardieu - Véronique Passavant
- Jean-Claude Dreyfus - Major François Lavrouye
- André Dussollier - Pierre-Marie Rouvières
- Ticky Holgado - Germain Pire
- Tchéky Karyo - Captain Etienne Favourier
- Jérôme Kircher - Kléber "Bastoche" Bouquet
- Denis Lavant - Francis "Six-Sous" Gaignard
- Urbain Cancelier - The monk
- Jean-Paul Rouve - The postman
- Michel Vuillermoz - P'tit Louis
- Albert Dupontel - Célestin Poux
- Bouli Lanners - Corporal Urbain Chardolot
- Philippe Duquesne - Favart
- Stéphane Butet - Julien Phillipot
- François Levantal - Gaston Thouvenel
- Thierry Gibault - Lieutenant Benoît Etrangin
- Jodie Foster - Élodie Gordes
- Rufus - The Breton
- Frédérique Bel - A prostitute
- Elina Löwensohn - La femme allemande
- Michel Robin - The old man on the battlefield
A Very Long Engagement was filmed entirely in France over an 18-month period, with about 30 French actors, approximately 500 French technicians and more than 2,000 French extras. Right before the film's New York City and Hollywood debut, the film's production company ("2003 Productions"), which is one-third owned by Warner Brothers and two-thirds owned by Warner France, was ruled an American production company by a French court, denying the studio $4.8 million in government incentives.
Awards and reception
The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction and the Academy Award for Best Cinematography at the Oscars. However, it was not selected by the French government as the French submission for the award for Best Foreign Language Film. Marion Cotillard won the César Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.
The film received generally positive reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 77% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 140 reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 76 out of 100, based on 39 reviews. The film had a production budget of $56.6 million USD and earned $70.1 million in theaters worldwide.
- Ben Sisario (compiler) (November 27, 2004). "Arts, Briefly". Agence France-Presse. The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-26.
- "A Very Long Engagement - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 18 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
- "Very Long Engagement, A (2004): Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 19 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
- "A Very Long Engagement (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
- (French) Official website
- A Very Long Engagement at the Internet Movie Database
- A Very Long Engagement at AllMovie
- A Very Long Engagement at Rotten Tomatoes
- A Very Long Engagement at Metacritic
- A Very Long Engagement at Box Office Mojo