Un long dimanche de fiançailles
starring Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Dominique Pinon, Clovis Cornillac
screenplay by Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Guillaume Laurant, based on the novel by Sébastien Japrisot
directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
by Walter Chaw Jean-Pierre Jeunet reunites immediately with his Amélie minx Audrey Tautou in this curious little Great War bauble, which locates the last time the French were considered military powers in a story of cowardly self-mutilation at the Front that results in the obsessive search of one war widow for the erstwhile deserter fiancé she knows in her heart is still alive. The picture, in other words, blows the patriotic flute for both the French and the Yanks, who, surely coincidentally, are the two entities financing the piece. (It's also probably a coincidence that a period epic romance set against war is opening just in time for Oscar consideration.) A Very Long Engagement is a tale of suffocating, all-consuming love, thus it works as something like a bloody companion piece to the oppressive romantic illness of Amélie, going so far as to dip into that film's bag of tricks (the matte Paris, the heroine returning lost artifacts, the butter-smooth montage introductions, the affection for idiosyncratic secondary characters) and recycle its tone of freakish insouciance. Jeunet's latest is so charming that it feels aggressive--and so well made that the horrors of trench warfare have all the impact of a beautifully-dressed, slightly morbid department store window.