A Very Long Engagement—Warner Brothers
A Very Long Engagement reunites director Jean-Pierre Jeunet with his Amlie leading lady Audrey Tautou. But viewers expecting carefree romance instead get a taste of carefree gore, courtesy of Jeunet's whimsical directorial style and the desperate World War I setting. Employing his trademark quick-cut flashbacks, Jeunet's storytelling style is perfectly married to the gloomy mystery of Mathilde's (Tautou) search for her (literally) shell-shocked fianc (Gaspard Ulliel), never giving up hope that he has survived. Mathilde becomes a detective and interviews veterans of the absurdly named Bingo Crespecule trench. With the soldiers' accounts often contradicting each other, the movie becomes a Rashmon—meets—Cold Mountain affair.
With this two-disc set, you'll find an audio commentary and a featurette on the scenes filmed in Paris that focuses largely on costuming challenges. There's also an excellent feature-length making-of that begins with a blooper of the flatulent kind.
From the dim grays of the trenches to the golden hues of country fields and the CGI-recreated 1920s Paris, the 2.35:1 anamorphic picture beautifully represents a full range of colors. While the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix serves the movie well, the battle scenes lack the thunderous subwoofer boom found on, say, The Big Red One: The Reconstruction. In addition, as quiet moments comprise most of the film, you might find yourself racing to the volume button on your remote when Jeunet's quick jumps bring the action from quiet dialogue to flashbacks ringing with explosions. Just another note of whimsy from this masterful director.