A Very Long Engagement

Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a miracle worker, a filmmaker whose soaring visuals and passionate intensity are artfully blended in this stunning film of Sebastian Japrisot's World War I-era novel. Jeunet reunites with his Amelie , Audrey Tautou, in a film as harsh as Amelie was ethereal. Tautou, an actress of magical gifts, is deeply affecting as Mathilde, a Frenchwoman who refuses to believe her sweet, slender fiancee, Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), is one of five soldiers killed in the trenches after being convicted of self-mutilation to avoid duty. She spends the war trying to track him down. It's unfair to reduce a dense plot, loaded with characters and incidents, to a quick summation, but the film is best met head-on. Just sit back and behold as Jeunet the visionary and Tautou the force of nature take you to hell and back with this epic love story. It's an emotional powerhouse.

From The Archives Issue 266: June 1, 1978