Thursday, April 05, 2007

Movie Watch! - Borat and A Very Long Engagement

There could not be two movies as completely far apart as Borat and A Very Long Engagement (Un long dimanche de fiançailles, because apparently the French do not capitalize every word in titles). Anyways, here I go:

1) Borat (2006) - I think everybody has seen this movie except me. But that's okay. Either way, at times it was painfully funny in the way that you want to turn away because you think you might hurt something. That was pretty much a good portion of the film. But when the jokes misfired, you really noticed they misfired And, hard to believe as it is, it felt a little slow at times for an 84 minute movie. But still great for a hearty laugh. 7/10

2) A Very Long Engagement (2004) - Adapted from a novel by
Sébastien Japrisot, this story comes to the big screen thanks to screenwriter Guillaume Laurant and director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, both of Amélie fame. Jeunet's marvelously romanticized, dreamlike vision of France somehow feels perfect for this tale of lost love during the gruesome destruction of World War I, as much as you would expect the two to be incompatible. Amélie star Audrey Tautou is back as Mathilde, a young woman with a lame leg as a result of a childhood disease. She lives with aunt and uncle in a cottage by the sea, a location so exceptionally gorgeous, you'll want to cry. In the years after the war, she desperately, almost obsessively seeks out her missing husband Manech (played by the devastatingly handsome, unbelievably adorable, absolutely incomparable, strikingly gorgeous Gaspard Ulliel, who played Hannibal in Hannibal Rising).

At the Oscars, the film was nominated for both Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography, and it was definitely worthy of both nods.
The cinematography in this film is a feast for the eyes. The scenery alternates between the lush, rich French countryside and horrific, severe World War I battlefields, creating a contrast that feels like a dream next to a nightmare. The visuals are computer-aided, but I didn't mind at all, I was too entranced by its beauty.

Mathilde is a woman who maintains her hope when everything else is so distraught and disparaging, but instead of bawling or letting herself go, she keeps it all inside. Tautou and Ulliel are both splendidly fine actors. Never letting emotion pour out in the dramatic American style, each one tells the most conflicted emotions with a slight wince of the mouth or the whisk of the eyelashes. This movie is unapologetically romantic, even when compared to Amélie. If that's what you're into (and I know I am), then it's definitely worth watching. 9/10

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