Saturday, August 20, 2005

A Very Long Engagement (Jeunet, 2004)

Well, crud. A Very Long Engagement -- Jean-Pierre Jeunet's follow-up to the enormously pleasing Ameile -- is a deep disappintment. It has so much going for it -- a compelling premise, spectacular cinematography, a lead actress that is seemingly incapable of making a false note -- but it is saddled with an absolute clunker of a screenplay. Once the central mystery is laid out, the film races along revealing puzzle piece after puzzle piece, but hardly has any room left to properly get us acquainted with the characters we are following, nor to offer anything themeatically that might add depth or perspective. The narration that seemed so charming in Amelie is frequently irritating here, getting in the way and often telling us things that we already know because we're looking right at it. 'Mathilde folds her arms in her lap ...' Yep, she is indeed doing that. Thanks for the confirmation. Individual moments are breathtaking; but, ultimately the film feels like a long, long list of revelations, devoid of any breathing room to allow us to appreciate the heroine's effort and reflect upon the meaning of her journey. The finale, which should be deeply emotional, instead adds up to a big 'So what'.




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