August 17, 2009

A Very Long Engagement

Audrey Tautou is about to go supernova with the release of Avant Chanel – the French film due out September 25 on this side of the pond, in which Tautou portrays Coco Chanel before her empire takes off.

I really liked Audrey Tautou in A Very Long Engagement – my favourite film. The time period is interesting, the costumes are great and the characters are charming.

In 1919 a young woman named Mathilde, the same age as the century, refuses to believe that her fiance is dead following World War 1. Manech was to have been executed by his own army, along with 4 others, for wounding himself to avoid combat.

Mathilde receives a box from an ailing man who knew Manech in the trenches and he tells her a long tale of what he believes happened in the trench bizarrely named Bingo Crepuscule.

Relentless Mathilde methodically pieces together events by going through the contents of the box – making contact with names she finds – puzzling out the mysteries that the photographs and artifacts present her with.

The bulk of the story is presented through the accounts those soldiers present at Bingo Crepuscule at the time. Although the narrative can be confusing, (it's fast and it’s subtitled), the story is compellingly interesting. A Very Long Engagement is beautiful to watch - the art direction is astounding.

"Un long dimanche de fiançailles" by Sebastien Japrisot is a great, poetic read. (I read it in English as A Very Long Engagement -I'm not bilingual). Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (the genius behind Amélie) has stayed true to the feel of the book and streamlined the story appropriately for the screen.

The Clever Pup has also discovered that the café used in the MMM scene is the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers - the inn housing the room where Vincent Van Gogh died.

Look out for Jodie Foster parlez-ing le français. And Marion Cotillard who won the 2008 Oscar for her role as Piaf in La Vie En Rose - this time playing the hooker with the heart of gold (not!)

Albert Dupontel in the third photo is one of my European thespian crushes. Why can't all men have the joie de vivre and the clothes sense of this character? He also bears the great name of Célestin Poux.

I am inordinately fond of this time period, genealogy and all things French. At an auction in Toronto, a serendipitous bid made me the owner of photographs of real French soldiers in the trenches with their own story to tell. A Very Long Engagement is a story that really speaks to me.

If you've yet to see it, I think you will enjoy it. I give it a 9 out of 10.


dogimo said...

Your favourite film and only 9 out of 10? Very funny, Pup! You do grade hard.

I loved this one, saw it in the theater and was quite swept away. It did get a little twisty in parts, but I think the director did a great job of not losing us any more than was necessary - the quest she was on was after all, meant to be bewildering.

The sweetness of their courtship in the beginning was true and believable, and kept one's heart firmly in throat for the duration. Great film, human in scale despite the epic scope, and flawed as human form. Those, I think, can be even better than the impersonally perfect monumental epics of cinema that everyone lauds, and everyone holds in awe.

☆sapphire said...

I'm with you. A very beautiful film and at the same time very touching. I saw it on DVD. Interestingly, war scenes are in blue(sepia tone) and love scenes are in warm orange(also sepia). I didn't know that the cafe was the inn housing the room where Vincent Van Gogh died. Thank you for sharing!

Candie Bracci said...

I know lots of people liked it,but I didn't,although I have loved "Amelie Poulain".

secret, fragile skies said...

Absolutely gorgeous post. Great way to begin the day. Paris, time period...with you on that. Also one of my top ten films. Have seen it many, many times. ("Happenstance"/Audrey Tatou/perfect)

artslice said...

Oooh, I can't wait for the Chanel film to come out... she's a perfect choice to play Coco C. I've never watched A Very Long... but after reading your post it sounds like a must. I'm looking forward to it. Thanks for the review!

Poetikat said...

We own this one on dvd and I absolutely loved it! (Kev did too.) It has such humour and life juxtaposed with those horrific, visceral front scenes. The characters are excellent and also Marion Cotillard of "La Vie en Rose" is fantastic.
I may have to watch it again now. I do agree with your rating. Absolutely.


sallymandy said...

I loved the film. Jodie Foster was indeed interesting.

Alistair said...

We also saw this on release and have since added it to our DVD collection.
I dont think I have seen anything but perfection in a performance by Ms Tatou and find her mesmerising on screen, similar to Juliette Binoche.
Again I agree with the above posts on the direction and cinematography which I thought was a master class.