A Very Long Engagement

A Very Long Engagement (French: Un long dimanche de fiançailles) is a 2004 romantic war 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.

A Very Long Engagement
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJean-Pierre Jeunet
Produced byFrancis Boespflug
Bill Gerber
Jean-Louis Monthieux
Fabienne Tsaï
Screenplay byJean-Pierre Jeunet
Guillaume Laurant
Based onUn long dimanche de fiançailles
by Sébastien Japrisot
StarringAudrey Tautou
Gaspard Ulliel
Marion Cotillard
Dominique Pinon
Chantal Neuwirth
André Dussolier
Ticky Holgado
Jodie Foster
Narrated byFlorence Thomassin
Music byAngelo Badalamenti
CinematographyBruno Delbonnel
Edited byHervé Schneid
Distributed byWarner Independent Pictures
Release date
  • 27 October 2004 (2004-10-27)
Running time
133 minutes
Budget$51.2 million[1]
Box office$76.6 million

The film was nominated for the Oscar for Best Art Direction and the Academy Award for Best Cinematography at the Oscars. 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 the 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 the 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 smile on her lips.



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 themselves released the film in the United States, and was released in the United States on VHS and DVD on July 12, 2005. It is known for being Warner Independent (The company themselves) final VHS release known.

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 was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction and the Academy Award for Best Cinematography at the Oscars. However, it was not selected by the French government as the French submission for the award for Best Foreign Language Film. Marion Cotillard won the César Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.

The film received generally positive reviews from critics. The film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 78% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 144 reviews.[6] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 76 out of 100, based on 39 reviews.[7] The film had a production budget of $56.6 million USD and earned $70.1 million in theaters worldwide.[8]

See also


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