"A Very Long Engagement" is the story of a woman in post-World War I France, who is lame from childhood polio and suffers from the unanswered question as to whether her fiancee survived the war. He was sentenced to death for self-mutilation, but there are holes in the story. She goes on a mission of love and hope to find out what has happened to him. Audrey Tatou, who starred in "Amelie," is back in this lead role as Mathilde. She joins director Jean-Pierre Jenuet once again (also of "Amelie") in another heartfelt story.
While "Amelie" is sweet and beautiful and warms the spirit with its tenderness, "A Very Long Engagement" is at times brutal and wrenching, but no less beautiful. Jenuet takes is on a winding road of mystery built on frustration, pain, loss, and sorrow. What he creates is a connection to Mathilde, much as to Amelie, where she becomes a close friend that evokes feelings of love and support. Wisely, Jenuet does not give us Mathilde fully all at once, but slowly over the duration of the movie. The connection to her grows without awareness, much as the anticipation to where her search will lead.
Chantal Neuwirth and Dominique Pinon also turn in fine performances as Mathilde's aunt and uncle, and Jodie Foster makes a surprise appearance that also adds to the movie's quality.
"A Very Long Engagement" has some violent and graphic moments, but they in no way diminish from this emotionally powerful film. You will leave the theater touched by Jenuet once again; in a different way then with "Amelie," but touched all the same.