Guest / Limited Access /
A Very Long Engagement
Our Rating
3 Stars - Good
Average Rating
(not rated yet)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
R (for violence and sexuality)
Directed By
Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Run Time
2 hours 13 minutes
Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Jodie Foster, Dominique Pinon
Theatre Release
October 27, 2004 by Warner Independent Pictures

During wartime, art about war can play an important role. It can coax us into contemplation and dialogue about the ethics of violent conflict. It may remind us of the lessons we can learn from the past. Sometimes it offers comfort and even hope during a time of fear, uncertainty, and loss. You could probably name a few favorites with such redeeming qualities: David O. Russell's Three Kings, Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line, Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, Edward Zwick's Glory, and Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory. Kubrick's later work, Full Metal Jacket, and Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, are sobering portrayals of the madness that war can unleash.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet's A Very Long Engagement, based on a novel by Sebastien Japrisot, aspires to be a meaningful war film about holding on to hope against all odds. Unfortunately, it assaults our senses with imagery so intense, subplots so disposable, and tones so different that we're bewildered instead of moved, overly entertained instead of enlightened.

Audrey Tautou plays Mathilde, waiting for her fiance to return from the war

Audrey Tautou plays Mathilde, waiting for her fiance to return from the war

Here's the premise: In the wake of World War I, Mathilde, a beautiful young woman crippled by polio, longs to know the fate of Manech, her fiancé who went off to fight for France. Manech, convicted of self-mutilation on the front lines, was punished alongside four other condemned soldiers. He was ordered to make himself an easy target for the enemy, and he never returned. Conflicting reports about his fate have thrown fuel on the feeble fire of Mathilde's hopes. She will stop at nothing to find out if Manech survived.

If you're feeling any déjà vu, that's because the premise is similar to another epic that arrived at this time last year—Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain. But it would be better ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Browse All Movie Reviews By:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
TrendingHow 1,000 Women Who Aborted Feel About the Local Church
How 1,000 Women Who Aborted Feel About the Local Church
Survey: Two in three evangelicals were attending monthly or more at the time of their first abortion.
Editor's PickThe Colonists’ New Religious Mystery
The Colonists’ New Religious Mystery
Sorry, Pilgrims: Jamestown’s spiritual life is suddenly much more fascinating.
Christianity Today
A Very Long Engagement
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

November 2004

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.