A long engagement for movie-goers

February 7, 2010By Heidi EllisonArchive

Amélie Fans Beware

Oct. 27, 2004: If you, like millions of others, loved Amélie, the film that managed to make Montmartre even more of a tourist attraction, that doesn’t mean you will love director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s latest, “Un long dimanche de fiançailles” (“A Very Long Engagement”). Once again, gamine Audrey Tautou plays the heroine (Mathilde), the images are lush to the point of unreality and Montmartre even makes an appearance (as it might have looked in the 1920s, with wooden windmills spinning on the hillside). Jeunet’s style still has its winning charm and creates a fairytale ambiance, but they seem out of place when depicting graphic images of violent death in the trenches of World War I. The plot is simple: Mathilde doesn’t believe that her young fiancé Manech (Gaspard Ulliel) really died during the war as reported, even though he was condemned to death for mutilating himself. The movie follows her improbable search for him at great (too great) length. If only the Mathilde character had some of Amélie’s charm, perhaps we would care whether or not she finds him, but alas, Tautou plays Mathilde as a spoiled, sour-faced brat. The film is visually sumptuous and full of picturesque scenery, with digital recreations of the Place de l’Opéra, the Les Halles food market and the Gare d‘Orsay when it was still a train station. Jeunet was given the final cut by producer Warner Bros. (which also let him make it in French – a first for an American-financed film, and gave him a budget of 45 million euros), but the movie would have benefited from tighter editing. The film has been nominated in 12 categories for the César Awards, the French Oscars, which will be handed out in a Paris ceremony on Feb. 26.

Heidi Ellison

© 2005 Paris Update

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