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UN LONG DIMANCHE DE FIAN«AILLES/A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT

No human calamity can withstand Audrey Tautouís impish smile. The carnage of World War I fades as nothing before its light. In the opening scenes of Jean-Pierre Jeunetís Un long dimanche de fiançailles, five French soldiers maim themselves (one by accident, for such is the irony of war) to escape the horrors of the front. The nefarious brass reacts by abandoning them to their death in no manís land. But these corrupt masters of war did not figure on the perseverance of Tautouís Mathilde, the fiancée of one of the five, who years later is determined to learn her belovedís fate. Or on the overripe whimsy of Jeunet, whose technique of the pixilated, precious flashback reached its limits with Amélie. True, Jeunet does darken the picture with Tina (Marion Cotillard), the beloved of another of the condemned soldiers, whose notion of restitution is less rosy and more bloodthirsty. But a glance at Stanley Kubrickís similarly themed Paths of Glory is enough to expose Dimanche in all its phoniness and maudlin manipulation. In French with English subtitles. (133 minutes)

BY PETER KEOUGH

Issue Date: December 17 - 23, 2004
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