Film: A Very Long Engagement

Cover image

A Very Long Engagement

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Distributor: Warner Home Video

The film is set in France near the end of World War I in the deadly trenches of the Somme, in the gilded Parisien halls of power, and in the modest home of an indomitable provincial girl. It tells the story of this young woman’s relentless, moving and sometimes comic search for her fiancé, who has disappeared. He is one of five French soldiers believed to have been court-martialed under mysterious circumstances and pushed out of an allied trench into an almost-certain death in no-man’s land. What follows is an investigation into the arbitrary nature of secrecy, the absurdity of war, and the enduring passion, intuition and tenacity of the human heart.


Both epic and intimate, A Very Long Engagement reunites Audrey Tautou and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the star and director of the hugely popular Amelie. A young woman named Mathilde (Tautou, Happenstance)separated from her lover by World War I refuses to believe he’s been killed and launches an investigation into his fate—an investigation that spins in all directions, creating dozens of miniature stories (including that of an Italian prostitute avenging the death of her own lover by elaborate means) that shift to and fro in time. The dazzling curlicues of narrative put brutality and tenderness back to back, shifting between crushing inevitabilities and miraculous rescues with deft storytelling skill and the lush visual style of the director of Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children. Through it all, Tautou—fierce and luminous—anchors the movie effortlessly. She’s among the most emotionally engaging actresses in cinema, with the kind of expressive beauty that transcends language. A gorgeous, far-reaching film; the huge cast also includes Jodie Foster (The Silence of the Lambs), Gaspard Ulliel (Strayed), and Dominique Pinon (Alien: Resurrection). —Bret Fetzer

Related Works

Album:A Very Long Engagement: Original Soundtrack

A Very Long Engagement: Original Soundtrack

Angelo Badalamenti

Employing the stunning, kinetic visual sense that made his reputation via Delicatessen, City of Lost Children and Amelie, French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet turned Sebastien Japrisot’s compelling World War I novel into the biggest budgeted film ever produced in his home country. To musically season his often downbeat epic, Jeunet again utilizes Lost Children’s composer, Angelo Badalamenti, and the American rises to the occasion with a brooding score that evokes dignified melancholy at every turn. While its shadowy introspection and…

Book:A Very Long Engagement: A Novel

A Very Long Engagement: A Novel

Sebastien Japrisot, Linda Coverdale

Set during and after the First World War, A Very Long Engagement tells the story of a young woman’s search for her fiancé, whom she believes might still be alive despite having officially been reported as “killed in the line of duty.” Unable to walk since childhood, fearless Mathilde Donnay is undeterred in her quest as she scours the country for information about five wounded French soldiers who were brutally abandoned by their own troops. A Very Long Engagement is a mystery, a love story, and an extraordinary portrait of life in France before and after the War.

Views: 573 • Modified: • Elapsed: 0.027 sec