Tag: audrey tautou

A Very Long Engagement


A Very Long Engagement (2004)
★★★ / ★★★★

Mathilde (Audrey Tautou) wouldn’t accept that Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), her fiancé, could possibly have died in the trenches during World War I’s Battle of the Somme. So she hired a private investigator (Ticky Holgado) to aid her search for the truth. Based on a novel by Sébastien Japrisot, “A Very Long Engagement” was romantic, shot in a golden glow, full of hope and optimism, a nice change of tone from most movies about war. While it still featured the violence and chaos in the front lines, the picture had a habit of going back to Mathilde and her tireless quest to prove that her lover was alive. But it wasn’t just Mathilde’s story. During her investigation, she met strong women along the way who were similar to her in terms of their loyalty and the great lengths they were willing to go through to preserve what they had prior to the war. There was Tina Lombardi (Marion Cotillard) who was on a desperate mission to murder the men who mistreated her lover in the trenches. On the other hand, Elodie Gordes (Jodie Foster) tried to keep a secret the fact that her husband, who was infertile, asked her to sleep with another man so they would eventually have a total of six children. When a soldier had half a dozen kids, the soldier was sent back home. The film took a bit of getting used to because it attempted to juggle the brutality of war and the romance between Mathilde and Manech from when they were children up until Manech had been summoned to serve his country. Admittedly, the two conflicting ideas didn’t always work together. Having less scenes in the trenches could have been more effective. However, the lighthouse scenes were beautiful and it was the point where I became convinced that what Mathilde and Manech had was something special. The film came into focus when Mathilde had to endure and sift through other people’s versions of the truth. I sympathized with her for the majority of the time but there were other times when I just felt sorry for her because she only listened to things she wanted to hear. It was as if denial was her only comfort through difficult times. She had the tendency to play a strange game of “if” and “then.” For instance, if the train she was on reached a tunnel within seven seconds, then it would be a sure-fire sign that her lover was alive. Her games often led to unexpected and slightly amusing results, but we had to understand that it was her unique way of coping in order to avoid an emotional meltdown. Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, “Un long dimanche de fiançailles” was touching and uplifting. Equipped with more than a dozen key characters and subplots, one of its downsides was it would most likely require audiences multiple viewings to fully understand how they were all connected.

Dirty Pretty Things


Dirty Pretty Things (2002)
★★ / ★★★★

Written by Steven Knight and directed by Stephen Frears, “Dirty Pretty Things” is about two illegal immigrants (Chiwetel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou) who work in a fancy hotel in London and get caught in an underground business run by their boss (Sergi López). This was supposed to be a thriller but I didn’t find anything particularly thrilling about it. I think it tried too hard to hide its secret underground happenings to the point where I found myself not knowing where the story was going. After it introduced particular events that could potentially drive the plot forward, it was followed by uneventful fifteen- to twenty-minutes. One of the few things I liked about it, however, was the way it showed illegal immigrants in the work place. While It was an effective drama, it considerably weaker in its thriller aspect. A third variable was the potential romance between Ejiofor and Tautou. It’s strange because I don’t know what to think of it. They didn’t exactly have chemistry together but it was nice to see them interact either when they were just talking or were sitting in silence. Overall, I think this film was misdirected and miscast. Not to mention it tried way too hard to inject various storylines; it made me feel like it simply did not have enough courage to tackle the main issue head-on. If it had focused on the underground activities that not many people know about, I think I would have been more interested. With two main characters who were easy to root for, if they had been placed in more dangerous situations, the script would’ve popped instead of imploding upon itself. I’ve heard a number of critiques regarding this picture and more than half of them were impressed with the “surprise” ending. Personally, I wasn’t that surprised because it was not particularly original. I’ve seen such an ending from a lot of similar but better films so I was not at all impressed. It left me unsatisfied but I was glad to see Tautou play someone who was a little more damaged and vulnerable than her other roles.