The story is simple enough. An innocent soldier, Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), has been exiled to no-man's-land by his superiors and is presumed dead. His fiance lovely, crippled Mathilde (Amelie's Audrey Tautou)--does all she can to find him. It's a fable of the noblest obsession, reflected in Tautou's poignant brown eyes. But it's just a part of Jeunet's grand, sad and comic panorama, which wants you to know everything about every character.
Can a movie have too much good stuff? Not when it's stuffed like this one. A bayoneted German soldier dies, and we literally see his last breath. A flashback to the childhood of Mathilde and Manech shows that he already loved her back then: if the crippled girl wants to see the sea from the top of the local lighthouse, he'll carry her up.
These and a hundred other privileges fight for your attention. So pay attention to this congested movie miracle. The headache it gives you will vanish soon enough; it's the heartbreak you'll take home.