Thursday, 11 August 2011

Places: France/Films and cinema: Un long dimanche de fiançailles [A very long engagement] (2004, Jean-Pierre Jeunet).

Soured from the Wikipedia page 'A Very Long Engagement'...because I live dangerously...

A Very Long Engagement (French: Un long dimanche de fiançailles) is a 2004 French romantic war film, 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 on the battle of the Somme, during World War I. It was based on a novel of the same name, written by Sebastien Japrisot, first published in 1991.

Five 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 in flashback to the battlefield.
In the movie, Manech and Mathilde are from Brittany. In the novel, however, they are from Cap-Breton, in the Landes department of southwest France.


  • Audrey Tautou - Mathilde Donnay
  • Gaspard Ulliel - Manech Langonnet, Mathilde's fiancé
  • Jean-Pierre Becker - Sergeant Daniel Esperanza
  • Jodie Foster - Élodie Gordes
  • Dominique Bettenfeld - Angel Bassignano
  • Clovis Cornillac - Benoît Notre-Dame
  • Marion Cotillard - Tina Lombardi
  • Jean-Pierre Darroussin - Corporal Benjamin "Biscotte" Gordes
  • André Dussollier - Pierre-Marie Rouvières
  • Julie Depardieu - Véronique Passavant
  • Albert Dupontel - Célestin Poux
  • Tchéky Karyo - Captain Etienne Favourier
  • Jean-Claude Dreyfus - Commandant François Lavrouye
  • Ticky Holgado - Germain Pire
  • Jérôme Kircher - Kléber "Bastoche" Bouquet
  • Denis Lavant - Francis "Six-Sous" Gaignard
  • Chantal Neuwirth - Bénédicte, Mathilde's aunt
  • Dominique Pinon - Sylvain, Mathilde's uncle
  • Bouli Lanners - Caporal Urbain Chardolot
  • Philippe Duquesne - Staff Sergeant Favart
  • Stéphane Butet - Julien Phillipot
  • François Levantal - Gaston Thouvenel
  • Thierry Gibault - Lieutenant Benoît Etrangin

Awards and reception

The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction and 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 $90.1 million in theaters worldwide.

  • Academy Awards (USA)
    • Nominated: Best Art Direction (Aline Bonetto)
    • Nominated: Best Cinematography (Bruno Delbonnel)
  • BAFTA Awards (UK)
    • Nominated: Best Film not in the English Language
  • Broadcast Film Critics Association (USA)
    • Nominated: Best Foreign-Language Film
  • Chicago Film Critics Association (USA)
    • Won: Best Foreign Language Film
  • César Awards (France)
    • Won: Best Actress – Supporting Role (Marion Cotillard)
    • Won: Best Cinematography (Bruno Delbonnel)
    • Won: Best Costume Design (Madeline Fontaine)
    • Won: Best Production Design (Aline Bonetto)
    • Won: Most Promising Actor (Gaspard Ulliel)
    • Nominated: Best Actress – Leading Role (Audrey Tautou)
    • Nominated: Best Director (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
    • Nominated: Best Editing (Hervé Schneid)
    • Nominated: Best Film
    • Nominated: Best Music (Angelo Badalamenti)
    • Nominated: Best Sound (Vincent Arnardi, Gérard Hardy and Jean Umansky)
    • Nominated: Best Writing (Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association (USA)
    • Won: Best Foreign Language Film
  • Florida Film Critics Circle (USA)
    • Won: Best Foreign Film
  • Golden Globe Awards (USA)
    • Nominated: Best Foreign Language Film

*Certainly a favourite film of mine for quite some time 'A very long engagement' completely changed my past views on Wartime films- often finding them a little drab or intense- combining exquisite acting, a compelling and romantic storyline and truly remarkable cinematography, this film is...marvellous. Jean-Pierre Jeunet, I salute you. 

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