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Movie Review

A Very Long Engagement (16)

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1 of 1 Beautifully sweet
Beautifully sweet

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, starring Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Jean-Pierre Becker, Dominique Bettenfeld, Clovis Cornillac, Marion Cotillard and Jean-Pierre Darroussin.

The director and star of the critically-acclaimed 'Amélie' (Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Audrey Tautou) team up again to tell this love story with a difference.

The movie is adapted from the novel by Sébastien Japrisot and is set at the end of the First World War. A country girl called Mathilde (Tautou) receives word that her fiancé Manech (Ulliel) was among five wounded soldiers who were court-martialled in the trenches and pushed out into no-man's land to almost certain death.

However, with no definitive proof that her love is dead, the young woman refuses to give up hope that Manech is alive and sets out on a long and winding quest to find out the exact truth of what happened to her sweetheart in the Great War.

She is the only one who sincerely believes the young soldier could have survived and, despite numerous different accounts of his demise, she refuses to relent until she can be absolutely sure of what happened to her beloved.

Jeunet and Tautou have again come up trumps with this beautifully sweet tale of the enduring hope that true love brings. Tautou is inspirational as the resilient Mathilde, who must endure harrowing stories of the brutal life at the Front in order to finally figure out the precise details of what happened to Manech.

The casting is spot on, with Marion Cotillard especially good as the vengeful Tina Lombardi. The trench scenes are also very believable. This is a project the director has waited over 10 years to get his teeth into, and the meticulous way he approaches every aspect of this movie is evidenced by the attention to detail that permeates throughout.

There are plenty of funny moments to lighten the mood at regular intervals, and at just under two hours long, the length is just right to tie up the numerous loose ends without treading into filler territory.

Séamus Leonard

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