A Very Long Engagement

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[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

This is an honest to goodness classy movie, in French. Fun to watch with Mrs. Salad, who speaks French, and pointed out numerous discrepancies between the dialog and the subtitles. Stars Audrey Tatou as Mathilde, and I think I'd watch just about anything she was in.

Mathilde's boyfriend is one of five French soldiers being sent to their near-certain doom as punishment for trying to get sent home by self-wounding. (Although one of the guys was simply trying to hit an overly-friendly rat with his loaded pistol; apparently his superiors didn't think anyone could be so stupid.) But Mathilde doesn't believe her boyfriend actually perished, so the movie is the story of her efforts to find out what really happened.

If anyone needs to be reminded about War being Hell, this is a pretty good movie for that. Depictions of WWI trench warfare are as grim as it gets.

Also chilling is a scene where a hospital has been set up in a blimp hangar. Complete with a hydrogen-filled blimp. You don't have to be psychic to predict what's gonna happen there.

Jodie Foster has a small role. I didn't know she was in it at all, and said: "Geez, that looks a lot like Jodie Foster." Credits roll, and: "Oh, it was."

Among all the bleakness, there are major welcome touches of whimsy. Mathilde plays the tuba, often. When she needs sympathy, she'll put herself in a wheelchair; when she's done, she rises, saying "It doesn't only happen at Lourdes." When the family's flatulent canine lets one go, Mathilde's mom responds with a small smile, and says to herself: "Doggie fart, gladdens my heart." (Mrs. Salad informs me this doesn't rhyme in French, but it should, shouldn't it?)

Last Modified 2024-02-04 4:58 AM EDT