A Very Long Engagement

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A Very Long Engagement
A Very Long Engagement movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Screenplay byJean-Pierre Jeunet
Guillaume Laurant
Based onUn long dimanche de fiançailles
by Sébastien Japrisot
Produced byJean-Pierre Jeunet
Francis Boespflug
Bill Gerber
Jean-Louis Monthieux
Fabienne Tsaï
Starring Audrey Tautou
Gaspard Ulliel
Marion Cotillard
Dominique Pinon
Chantal Neuwirth
André Dussolier
Ticky Holgado
Jodie Foster
Narrated by Florence Thomassin
Cinematography Bruno Delbonnel
Edited by Hervé Schneid
Music by Angelo Badalamenti
2003 Productions
Warner Bros. France
Tapioca Films
TF1 Films Production
Distributed by Warner Bros. France
Release date
  • 27 October 2004 (2004-10-27)
Running time
133 minutes
United States
Budget$51.2 million [1]
Box office$76.6 million

A Very Long Engagement (French : Un long dimanche de fiançailles, "A long Sunday of engagement") is a 2004 French-American romantic film, co-written and directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou. It is a fictional tale about a young woman's desperate search for her fiancé who might have been killed during World War I. It was based on the 1991 novel of the same name by Sébastien Japrisot.


The film was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography at the 77th Academy Awards. Marion Cotillard won the César Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.


Five French soldiers are convicted of self-mutilation in order to escape military service during World War I. They are condemned to face near-certain death in no man's land between the French and German trench lines. It appears that all of them were killed in a subsequent battle, but Mathilde, the fiancée of one of the soldiers, refuses to give up hope and begins to uncover clues as to what actually took place on the battlefield. She is all the while driven by the constant reminder of what her fiancé had carved into one of the bells of the church near their home, MMM for Manech Aime Mathilde (Manech Loves Mathilde; a pun on the French word aime, which is pronounced like the letter "M". In the English-language version, this is changed to "Manech's Marrying Mathilde").

Along the way, she discovers the brutally corrupt system used by the French government to deal with those who tried to escape the front. She also discovers the stories of the other men who were sentenced to no man's land as a punishment. She, with the help of a private investigator, attempts to find out what happened to her fiancé. The story is told both from the point of view of the fiancée in Paris and the French countryside—mostly Brittany—of the 1920s, and through flashbacks to the battlefield.

Eventually, Mathilde finds out her fiancé is alive, but he suffers from amnesia. Seeing Mathilde, Manech seems to be oblivious of her. At this, Mathilde sits on the garden chair silently watching Manech with tears in her eyes and a smile on her lips.


Production and release

A Very Long Engagement was filmed entirely in France over an 18-month period, with about 30 French actors, approximately 500 French technicians and more than 2,000 French extras. [2] Right before the film's New York City and Hollywood debut, the film's production company ("2003 Productions"), which is one-third owned by Warner Brothers and two-thirds owned by Warner France, was ruled an American production company by a French court, denying the studio $4.8 million in government incentives,. [2] The ruling is consistent with the fact that Warner France is owned by Warner Spain, [3] which is owned by Warner Nederland, [4] itself a subsidiary of Warner Brothers. [5]

Warner Independent released the film theatrically in the US, followed by VHS and DVD release on July 12, 2005. It was Warner Independent's final VHS release. The only Blu-ray to date is a region B disc from Warner Home Video in France.

In the film, Manech and Mathilde are from Brittany, whereas in the novel, they are from Capbreton, in the Landes department of southwest France.

Awards and reception

The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography at the 77th Oscars, losing both to The Aviator . [6] [7] [8] It was not selected as the French submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, in favor of The Chorus . Marion Cotillard won the César Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance, while Audrey Tautou was nominated for Best Actress.

The film received generally positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 78% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 148 reviews, and an average rating of 7.39/10. The website's critical consensus states, "A well-crafted and visually arresting drama with a touch of whimsy". [9] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 76 out of 100, based on 39 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". [10] The film had a production budget of $56.6 million USD and earned $70.1 million in theaters worldwide. [11]

See also

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  6. The Aviator Wins Art Direction: 2005 Oscars
  7. 2005|Oscars.org
  8. The Aviator Wins Cinematography: 2005 Oscars
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  11. "A Very Long Engagement (2004)". Box Office Mojo . Retrieved 2008-02-06.
  12. Golden Globes