Movies: French Kiss

A film that will wallop your head and heart

François Truffaut called them "privileged moments": brief shots that offer snapshots of the soul in a glance or caress. A Very Long Engagement, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's first film since the immensely popular and affecting Amélie, is full of those moments. In adapting Sébastien Japrisot's novel set in World War I and its chaotic aftermath, Jeunet and writer Guillaume Laurant have taken virtually the whole book and thrown it onscreen at a breathless, speed-reading pace. A fabulous image will appear, hurtle into your busy brain, then give way to the next.

The story is simple enough. An innocent soldier, Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), has...

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