The Pestle


Ep 66: “A Very Long Engagement”

January 29, 2019

We limp through Jeunet’s “A Very Long Engagement” and discuss:

  • color;
  • story;
  • and other such stuff and things and stuff.

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.Ernest Hemingway

Notes & References:
Hemingway’s Death – It may be far more complicated and dark than I indicated on the show.

This Week’s Recommendations:

One comment

  1. Marc Israel says:

    Hey there Wes and Todd!

    I want to first Thank You for reviewing this film that I have recommended. I requested this film to be reviewed by The Pestle, much like Birdman, due to the interesting nature of the subject, characters and storyline and the fact that it is holds no obvious, intended or expected reviewer outcome. While there are movies that seem to be universally “perfect” I would think that they may be less of an entertaining episode to listen to you both review, The shoe is on the other foot for me in knowing your reactions to it, now but that’s cool.Your thoughts and reactions are the show, not the movie in itself.

    However I do wish to share my personal film observations that may shine a little more light (as deemed an issue!) on a film based upon such a dark era.

    This is a magnificent story of hope spun through a mystery and it possibly requires more attention and understanding of the characters than is possible to grasp on one viewing, which is not aided by it being a foreign language or so many characters looking and sounding alike due to war uniforms and the film darkness. Both issues resemble other incredible heralded moves in The Godfather and Lord Of The Rings, however, multiple viewings have certainly clarified those characters, their motivations and the storylines involved. The director actually saw the American test audience struggle with the plot for the same reasons and changed things up a bit but not enough to compensate, but I will attest that my continual multiple viewings over the years only get better.

    Hope: Mathilde meets Manech and the first thing he utters to her is to ask her if her leg hurts, noticing her limp (due to polio). This is also the last spoken line by a character in the movie as she recognizes hope remains. Maybe they will end up together as when they first met…. That both utterly romantic and she gets it, even while in the old fashioned gooped up makeup that was as unattractive as we’ve ever seen her!

    The polio (bum leg) plays an important part in th storyline, more than for our empathy for the character. The detective Germain Pire may not have taken the job due to wanting higher wages and may not have had such an extraordinary romp through Europe looking for clues if noyt for taking sympathy towards her due to his daughter suffering the same illness. We also would have the vignettes regarding the treatments as well as her fantasy with George the Masseuse.

    You may find interesting that the director Jean-Pierre Jeanut has numerous anti-gun movies, his last two:The Young and prestigious T.S. Spivet:: accidental child gun accident and Micmacs: a comic revenge story getting back at rival ammunition manufacturers who made the roadside bomb that killed the lead characters father and bullet that permanently challenged him in a other firearms catastrophe. He’d probably be quite pleased to hear you podcast on those accords!

    The coded letter being solved by the German sister of a killed soldier from the same battlegrounds was a terrible and forced resolution. That dropped my personal rating a notch for sure. The simple but warm moments and quirky characters draw me in and make they players more accessible despite being in a war time a century ago. Also wanted to share the fact that the director uses actors from his other movies adds a fun twist to see who shows up and in what capacity as those repeaters are often cast comically to much success.

    FYI – The execution was based on actual footage of an execution during the time period.

    I would end by volunteering that the suggestion may not be a “Monet” to you now, but The Lord Of The Rings and The Godfather were quite dark, hard to follow with different dark characters with difficult names and convoluted plots, and that many classical composers are only lauded decades after their deaths and when their art was created. I think Jean Pierre Jeanut was at his peak here and this has a stringer subject matter across the board than the lovely and dreamlike world of “Amelie”.

    p.s. Todd, hard to find good audio trailer for a foreign film, mea culpa!
    p/s/ Todd, You had to drop an Alanis reference?

    Marc Israel

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