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A Very Long Engagement

Jean-Pierre Jeunet, like Julie Taymor and a number of other directors, has always been defined by his strong visual aesthetic. As such his films are, if nothing else, interesting to look at.

A Very Long Engagement is the most visually restrained movie of his that I've seen, but even then the pictures are beautifully or grotesquely splendid.

I got lost a bit in the detail of the plot and the multitude of characters, but the narrative spine was quite clear. At first I thought the ending was underdone, but then I felt myself very moved as the credits ran. The pathos was on a slow fuse.

Good performances all-round. Was knocked over when Jodie Foster appeared. I knew she spoke French but didn't expect her in a movie such as this... don't know why really - Ron Perlman starred in Jeunet's City of the Lost Children. I don't doubt that having a Hollywood star in an important role would have helped get the movie made, but I also don't doubt that she was chosen only for her talent.

I thought, from the reviews, that it would be a very serious, sombre story but even here Jeunet inserts whimsical flourishes, though Engagement isn't defined by its whimsy in the way that Amelie was.

It does resemble Amelie a lot in that Audrey Tatou plays a woman who is caught up in the lives of a number of people while in pursuit of her own quest. The movies also share techniques such as the off-screen story teller and a common cinematic approach.

Comparing the two, as I recall I thought Amelie was the more inventive work, but that dragged towards the end. Engagement was a more traditional tale but despite its longer running time the pace was more consistent. Still, I think I prefer Amelie though I'd have to re-watch it to confirm that.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 10, 2005 5:23 PM.

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