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GreenCine Movie Talk
In The Theaters
I just saw it and boy does it...
318

A Very Long Engagement
Topic by: lividsnails
Posted: January 9, 2005 - 6:01 PM PST
Last Reply: January 15, 2005 - 11:42 PM PST

author topic: A Very Long Engagement
lividsnails
post #1  on January 9, 2005 - 6:01 PM PST  
I thought "intricate" was a good word for this film. It's very visually-detailed, very ornate. I saw some interesting visual techniques that I hadn't seen before (or at least that I hadn't noticed before) that really worked quite well for this film (I think they might not work so well in other formats). I'm thinking of things like the pictures within the picture, sorta showing two scenes at once, one image superimposed on the other. This has probably got a name, but I don't know it. In my next life when I'm a filmmaker I'm gonna learn about all this stuff, for now, I just appreciate it. At any rate, because of this, this might be one of those films that's definitely worth seeing on the big screen. It might lose something in this area on small screens.

It's not often I like love stories but I liked this one. I think because -besides the beautiful cinematography- it contrasts the hopefulness, the innocence of young love with the hard ugliness and wincing brutality of war. I often don't like love stories because I think they're fantasies. This isn't a fantasy; this is real life. No sappy idealism here.

So it's an unsappy love story; it's also a mystery. There's a puzzle here, we follow the main character, Matilde, in her pursuit to piece that puzzle together, --that is, after she has remained undaunted by the fact that initially it looks like there is no puzzle at all, nothing to figure out. That's what everyone around her thinks: that she's just in denial. But she persists and then it's clear that there is something to figure out and in the end all the pieces come together nicely (sorry that might be a spoiler, of sorts).

One thing I'm not sure of is the sequence of events in terms of how the director decided when to reveal this or that detail of the main characters' lives. I don't know if I can explain this very well but if directors are conscious about how the development of the audiences' sympathies for or identification with the characters develops throughout the course of the story, I thought in this movie that process is not unnoticeable. It seemed a little jerky. My own emotional involvement with the characters didn't really take off until quite late in the film, when we get more of their background. I thought this sympathy-enducing background information should've come earlier. Did anyone else feel this way and if so, do you think it's a flaw?

If it is, it's forgiveable. Overall, this is a damn good movie. Go see it.
Cinenaut
post #2  on January 10, 2005 - 6:09 PM PST  
I can't wait to see it!
hardcle
post #3  on January 12, 2005 - 3:35 PM PST  
I've seen it too, and I enjoyed it very much.

Terry Gross did a fantastic interview with the director, Jean Pierre Jeunet today. Well worth a listen.
ALittlefield
post #4  on January 13, 2005 - 9:34 AM PST  
I was disappointed by this film; I found it long, and more than a bit confusing. I'm usually OK with films with lots of characters, but I found myself mystified as to how all these people related to each other. So yeah, it looked great, and it certainly captured the pointlessness of WWI, I still had trouble getting into it.
lividsnails
post #5  on January 13, 2005 - 6:22 PM PST  
oh it's definitly confusing. If you miss the first five minutes -forget it. you do have to pay close attention. I think I'd have caught more with an extra cup of coffee. but I like that in a movie (sometimes). yah, we don't know how all these characters relate to each other at first and when they finally come together it's like oooh, so that's it! I'm gonna go search out that Terri Gross interview.
Bowwow
post #6  on January 13, 2005 - 7:02 PM PST  
Hmmm. I think I will have to check this one out for sure
woozy
post #7  on January 15, 2005 - 11:42 PM PST  
I saw this last night. I liked it. I thought a little more time in the beginning to clarifying just who the characters (the five court-martialed self-mutilators and the soldiers at the scene) were (as they later were important and it was hard [impossible] to remember anything about them). I like the way the director will portray the essence of a person by a quick series of disperse but impressionistic observations interspersed with quick visual cuts. BUT when these serve as our one and only introduction to eight characters we're supposed to recognize later, this is difficult because what seemed impressionistic are now actual clues to a conventional mystery.

Still no-one else does such lush intriquate story telling.

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