*** Official A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Chris, Dec 14, 2004.

  1. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 1997
    Messages:
    6,788
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Just a note to give this a bump.. A Very Long Engagement will go into wider distribution this week, and it's worth a visit if you get a chance to visit or would like to see a different kind of film [​IMG]

    (I'd definitely take this over Spanglish)
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    32,993
    Likes Received:
    8,060
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    This thread is now designated the Official Discussion Thread for "A Very Long Engagement" please, post all comments, links to outside reviews, film and box office discussion items to this thread.

    All HTF member film reviews of "A Very Long Engagement" should be posted to the Official Review Thread.

    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.


    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2002
    Messages:
    1,544
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Just now getting to this on DVD, although I found the transfer a little subpar, the film was beautiful, a visual treat.

    I’d highly recommend when your looking for that something which has “chick flic” approval with enough to interest male tastes, to consider checking out this film to impress your significant other (if they can tolerate subt). Occasionally very violent.
    Although the cover art does the film great injustice making it appear as if l'amour will be its constant focus, WWI interspersed liberally will captivate most men. Along with that very spare sprinkling of French prostitution at its most stylized.

    Loved Jodie Foster’s brief appearance, although as an American it did tend to jolt me out of the French provincial mood a bit. The glasses murder was a very Jean-Pierre Jeunet moment.
    The supporting cast (the Postmans and Uncles gravel war) nicely support the main theme.

    Several individual shots are breathtaking in composition. Well worth even a purchase...I am glad I did, since my viewing last night was interrupted by checking tornadoes touching down in a nearby region.!!

    The immense amount of droll humor in the film relies upon the often traditionally pragmatic view of love the French hold, which is at odds with Mathilde’s superstitions and compulsive rhymes, as she ceaselessly calculates like a gambler on her lovers survival, “If I reach the lane before....”; she does proceed in a very practical way under influence of her stubborn fixation, to solve her personal mystery.

    We tend to banter movie lines back and forth as commentaries upon daily life, we will be using two new lines gleamed from AVLE.

    As soon as they get the execution over, I can go straight home.
    A dog’s fart gladdens the heart.

    Looking forward to giving it my undivided attention during a second viewing.
     
  4. Steve Y

    Steve Y Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2000
    Messages:
    710
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    110
    Beautiful movie with amazing colors and cinematography and a nice blend of comedy and heart. The war scenes are also very intense and memorable. It unravels very slowly, like any good mystery, though probably a little too slowly for my tastes. I also could have done without the excessive narration in the prologue -- Jeunet is such a visual storyteller that it really wasn't necessary, except that such a collection of sharply-cut takes would seem naked without it. Well, if "Raising Arizona" can do it...

    Like in "Amelie", our heroine's male counterpart is never allowed to really flesh out. He sort of drifts around and never comes to earth, so for me that really undercut the anticipation of any reunion between them. Who is this guy, anyway? But it's amazing how perfectly this movie captures a sense of a different time and place. And I love the little touches, like the bicycle courier on the gravel...

    "A Very Long Engagement" is very long. Probably too long. It was good seeing it on video, so I could take it in halves.

    I'm very interested now that Jeunet is now working on "Life of Pi" - I think he is the perfect choice for that material.
     
  5. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2000
    Messages:
    9,162
    Likes Received:
    347
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Real Name:
    John
    This is a fabulous film and only loses as my favorite of 2004 to Eternal Sunshine by the slimmest of margins. It is definitely a deliberate film, so it may seem long to some, but at 130 minutes without closing credits, isn't actually that long a movie. I do not think it is too long in the least. it wonderfully built up to one of those endings where I was surprised how involved I had become. I can't imagine splitting it into two sessions, as the continuity and emotion would be severely disrupted.
     
  6. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2000
    Messages:
    12,251
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Just echoing John's sentiments - this is a fine film and really should be sought out. A shame that this thread only has a handful of replies while a thread on box office receipts (!?!) is up to 16 pages already. Is how much money the latest Hollywood schlockfest making what people really care about? Geez.
     
  7. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2000
    Messages:
    9,162
    Likes Received:
    347
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Real Name:
    John
    I might as well. Here's my review of it.

    I give it *****/*****


    A Very Long Engagement

    Once every few years a film comes along which has the patience and subtlety to sneak into the subconscious of the viewer, without quite making its effect known until it is over and the final credits start rolling. For some reason, those films almost always seem to not be American ones. That is not a feeble bit of Hollywood bashing, because I am quite a fan of American films and am fully aware that not all American films come from Hollywood. It is merely an observation, that even the finest current American films rarely have the patience to reach their conclusion in any other way than by doing it as fast as possible. It is films such as the fabulous 1989 Italian classic Cinema Paradiso or the 2002 Pedro Almodovar film Talk to Her which are willing to take as much time as necessary, telling a relatively simple story in such a way as to keep the viewer essentially unaware of how involved they have become, until that final scene, when everything comes together in a wave of awareness that makes the time needed to get there more than worth it. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's latest, A Very Long Engagement, is just that type of film.

    Jeunet is most well known by American audiences for his 2001 film Amélie, which starred French actress Audrey Tautou, who returns as the main character once again. Here, Tautou plays Mathilde, a 20 year old woman who's fiancée, Manech (Gaspard Ulliel) was sent off to fight in WWI three years earlier and is reported to have been executed for intentionally injuring himself. Mathilde insists that if Manech were actually dead, she would have known it before receiving notice from the military, and begins the long search for what actually happened, as well as Manech's whereabouts.

    During her search, Mathilde comes into possession of a box filled with various items, each belonging to someone involved with Manech's time in the military. It is an interesting parallel to Amelie, in which Tautou played a character seeking out the owners of several items in a box she found in her apartment. As the owner of each item is located, another bit of the puzzle is put in place and Mathilde learns more of what actually happened to Manech, while reliving her childhood memories of him.

    The film begins with the story of how Manech, as well as four other soldiers, are sentenced to death for either intentionally or accidentally injuring themselves. Many films have addressed the absurdity of war and A Very Long Engagement takes a slightly different and ultimately more effective approach, with the story of five soldiers being sentenced to death for self injury, rather than fulfilling their objective of killing others. It is more than a side issue, since a great deal of the film is taken up by war scenes as more and more is revealed about the men's situations. These scenes are occasionally graphic without ever being excessive or gratuitous.

    Like all Jeunet films, A Very Long Engagement exists in an almost fantasy world. These are very much like real people living at a historically accurate point in time, but they are shown in a way that is at least a bit otherworldly. It is something like a Norman Rockwell painting brought to life with a touch of Salvador Dali thrown in for good measure. The camera often moves in on the face of one character in an expressive and crisp shot, which is also just outside reality. The characters, particularly Mathilde, have a Shakespearean habit of acknowledging the audience at various moments, usually with nothing more than a look. All of these are typical Jeunet traits, dating back at least as far as his oddball cult classic Delicatessen. Along with American director Terry Gilliam (Brazil, 12 Monkeys) Jeunet is one of the most visually distinctive directors working today.

    A Very Long Engagement is a film for the patient. It requires effort and the willingness to let it move at its own pace. The narrative is somewhat complex and evolves more like an epic romantic poem than a typical movie. There are a great number of characters, and keeping them straight can be difficult, particularly while dealing with subtitles and what is often quite a bit of dialog. Still, the effort required is handsomely rewarded. The visuals are rich and surreal. The story is deep with meaning and imagery and the humor is wonderfully off-beat. This is one of those true, rare joys in film.
     
  8. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2000
    Messages:
    12,251
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Well said, buddy! [​IMG]

    Dammit, I really need to get back in the habit of writing reviews...
     
  9. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 1998
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    5,110

    Don't forget the posts in the review thread. (The link above has been fixed.) This and the review thread were originally a single thread, but they were split when official threads were created.

    M.
     
  10. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2002
    Messages:
    1,544
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Beautifully sculpted review of AVLE but if I might add an addendum to your use of the word ‘patience’.
    Readers might mistakenly view that terminology as a negative.
    The progression of the film is neither slow paced nor lacking in action, I feel there is simply a few minutes decompression required to leave our world and enter the Director’s creation while the forward momentum of the film is consistently engaging.

    You explore a striking and lush fairy book stylized landscape broken with peaks of black humor.

    Fairybook: another descriptive lacking adequate breath of meaning for this film.
    Jeunet's work seems heavily influenced by an impressionist style of illustrating life. Embodied with slight correlation’s to the founding Mr. Disney concepts for creating sparkling thematic village-shots blended with muted down Quentin Tarantino concepts that ‘death’ destruction life and love itself are best depicted outrageously over the top with liberal base strokes of humor.

    Life as depicted in AVLE;
    Remember that line from the Matrix? “Cursing in French is like wiping your @rse with silk”
    Where Tarantino wades in with broadaxe, Jeunet has the surgeons’ skill of precise detachment. Both in their ways an equally ludicrous and relevant commentary on reality.
     
  11. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2000
    Messages:
    9,162
    Likes Received:
    347
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Real Name:
    John
    Well, I rave about it and give it 5 stars, so I guess you take my comment that it is a film for the patient however you choose. It is definitely quite a deliberate movie in a time of wham-bam storytelling. I made the comment because I constantly see comments such as...

    I see it much the same way as The Man Who Wasn't There in the sense that I feel both take as long as they require. TMWWT is quite different, since the story is significantly simpler, but in the end they are both quite effective so long as you allow them to unfold at their own pace. I suggest people watch a few Tarkovsky movies and then see how long they think this movie is.
     
  12. Steve Y

    Steve Y Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2000
    Messages:
    710
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    110
    First of all, I enjoyed watching this movie, though I don't think I could make it through again. While it lasts, the small, wonderful details make "waiting it out" fun rather than laborious. And what a gorgeous film. Adding whimsy to war and war to whimsy? Cool with me.

    I wasn't bothered by the deliberate pace of A Very Long Engagement; it's the central relationship at its core that rang hollow to me. We are reminded over and over how passionately the lovers feel, but their love is never fleshed out. We just have some pretty words and glances. For whatever reason I didn't understand it or feel invested in it. Brett Buckalew at FilmStew wrote:


    The driving force of the central character (and the film itself) is this love's true fate, and to me that was never defined or in doubt. So the endless digressions become the reason to watch AVLE, its myriad of characters and intersections and complications and coincidences. But they are exhausting after a while. They're also piled upon the fate of two characters whose relationship is never defined, so it's much ado about nothing.

    I think it is exactly this "idealized" love that appeals to so many people about Jeunet's work. Still, it's what left me cold after the end of Amelie, too. I call it the "Wait, So Who Is This Guy?" Syndrome.

    But to quote Royal Tennenbaum, this is just "one man's opinion".

    p.s. The Man Who Wasn't There is one of my all-time favorite films! Kudos to the reference.
     
  13. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2002
    Messages:
    1,544
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    John I deeply admired (and agreed with) your review, wish I could write half so well. Patience is a good descriptive term to use, especially as regards keeping track of the twists and turns of the battlefield connections between characters.
    It was obvious you highly recommend this film, I only made the, sounds-like a negative, comment - in the sense that I have seen men react to the “P” word. Interperting it in a movie review to mean that the film under dicussion has ‘nothing going on’ of interest unless a viewer has an ‘artsy fartsy’ bent.

    To support a film like this I always hope that men whose taste run predominantly towards action/adv. will give it a chance.

    I simply meant that some see the word and associate it (doubly on a film that’s subtitled) as something akin to “well....your date has lots of personality”

    in my zeal to emphasis other qualities some might consider attributes; war and French prostitutes, I commented on the ‘P’ word. [​IMG]


    I agree with Steve that the largest fault I can find in both films by this Director mentioned is ”I call it the "Wait, So Who Is This Guy?" Syndrome.” In that sense this movie is not a ‘love’ story at all, since we don’t quite see why she is so devoted. It’s more about the journey and Mathilde’s determination.
    Other aspects of the film capture me, I let the lack of development over what it is about ‘him’ be on ‘her’ own head. In other words ...I hope he’s worth it. [​IMG]
    A film like ‘Rob Roy” which skillfully fleshes out a ferociously abiding love between a couple, satisfies that need in me. AVLE has delightful other attractions so I excuse it, in the same category that encompasses main characters showing attachment to unworthy mates. So it really doesn’t matter if I care about the relationship...because she does.



    ......by the by, sometimes I read my posts later, composed when I might be doing other things simultaneously ...and even I don’t know what I meant!
     
  14. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2000
    Messages:
    9,162
    Likes Received:
    347
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Real Name:
    John

    Completely makes the movie for me.
     
  15. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2002
    Messages:
    1,544
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    "anyone who views "patience" as a negative will most likely not enjoy the movie." my husband is the action/adv. type but due to his patience for me he watches many films outside the boundary critiera that would normally cause him to pick up a selection. I was delighted He loved this film and particulary commented upon the war sequences, laughing outloud over the 'great gravel battle', and other moments. Therefore, - my hopes for others with his liked tastes. (Blockbusters/war/et-all) [​IMG]

    Strangely, he wanted that 'neat' ending. What you stated you loved most, and was for me a masters touch on last lines, - bothered him?! He expected
    that Manech would via the shock of her presense regain what was lost. He really queried me on this and could not quite decipher why it did not upset me. I explained that for any woman as determined as Mathilde, it was a sure thing....she had all the patience/time in the world... his soul had chosen hers in their past...it would again.

    devastatingly effective ending.

    Edit: .. as a woman I can relate to the pure and utter satisfaction on Mathildes face. I've been with my husband since we were 16, yet when he recently returned from a 2-wk trip, I "looked at him" as he slept with that selfsame peace of soul. I do it often at moments when he is unaware and know, that I always will.
     
  16. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Lead Actor
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2000
    Messages:
    6,855
    Likes Received:
    718
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    I'm lousy at describing why I like or dislike a film. I just know that some films work for me and some don't. So far both of the films that I have seen by this director have worked for me. I like the visual look and feel that the Jeunot creates in both Amelie and AVLE.

    I get the impression that the reason the male characters are not well developed is because they serve only as motivation for the main characters obsessions. To me, both Amelie and AVLE are more about exploring the obsessions that love can trigger, rather than about love itself.

    I still like Amelie better than AVLE, but AVLE is definitely a deeper film. AVLE explores the obsessive qualities of love, while at the same time exploring the venality, hatred, and bizarre situations that occur during wartime.

    AVLE had a deliberate pacing, but I wouldn't call it slow. If you want slow, try watching the original "SOLARIS". I tried watching the film twice and both times I fell asleep. I can honestly say that I was not impressed with that particular film.

    The soundtrack is the thing that impressed me less about AVLE than Amelie. Amelie had a fantastic soundtrack that really supported the situations that occurred on-screen. I was so impressed by the soundtrack of Amelie that I actually bought the CD. A rare occurence for me, because I generally find that movie soundtracks do not work very well for me without the accompanying visuals. The AVLE soundtrack was more non-descript and less memorable. It reminded me more of a run-of-the-mill movie soundtrack.

    For me, one of the more memorable scenes in AVLE was the military hospital in the blimp hangar. That scene just reinforced the stupidity that ran rampant in the military high command structure.

    There was one minor nit that irritated me. The French soldiers referred to the strafing German plane as an Albatros. To anyone who knows airplanes the Albatros was a single seat German fighter: not a two-seat bi-plane with a rear gunner. I'm pretty sure that soldiers on the front lines of The Great War would have known that, considering that they were probably being strafed by Albatrosses on a regular basis. Other than that I found the film to be very good.

    Freeze frame on DVD players can sometimes be useful. To my eye, the plane used in that sequence looked similar to a Stearman.
     
  17. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2002
    Messages:
    1,544
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Great scene: I had forgotten that part, "military hospital in the blimp hangar.'
    We were interupted several times, - still need to roll the film again.
    My husband said...this is not going to be good as soon as the hanger was shown. [​IMG]
    the tunnel murder, I made the short snappy motion of the prositute the next day at my husband after he said something questionable....he died laughing. [​IMG]
    ...the stearman ...a great slooow bird...I could go faster in a car. Much larger than you'd expect in person.
    I'll ask the pater if he knows.
     

Share This Page