Carl's Netflix Review #5

A Very Long Engagement
3/5 stars

Yes, it's been over two months since my last mini-review, and it's been nearly that long since that last time I've sat down to watch a DVD at home.

If you've ever seen a movie by Jean Pierre Jeunet (The City of Lost Childre, Amelie), you know that they are visually rich like a dark chocolate cake, ready to give you diabetes. A Very Long Engagement falls onto the same dessert tray, though it is a bit darker and lacking the same kind of "magic" that was felt throughout his last picture, Amelie.

The premise of the film is that five French soldiers during WWI are court marshalled and left for dead in no-man's land as punishment. At first, it seems that all perished, however as we see through the eyes of Mathilde (Audrey Tatou), whose fiance was one of the five, that is not necessarily true.

It's hard to talk about this film without comparing it to Amelie, JPJ's last film, that featured several of the same actors, crew, and storytelling style. Whereas Amelie was light, airy and magical, AVLE is much more somber, depressing and wet. Amelie has talking photo-strips and neurotic waitresses. AVLE has hookers-turned-assassins and people getting stabbed in the ass. Nearly every character in Amelie has an interesting backstory that somehow becomes pertinent sometime during the course of the film, AVLE has several characters with interchangeable backstories that sometimes feel like filler.

My biggest problem with AVLE is that there are too many indistinguishable characters. JPJ makes an effort at the beginning of the film to introduce us to the five condemned soldiers, but as the mystery unfolds and more soldiers and family members come into play, it gets confusing. Maybe the film's French dialogue causes that.

Anyhow, if you're a fan of JPJ's, or just a fan of Amelie, AVLE is worth checking out and for making your opinion.


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