Mathilde: [peeling an apple] If I don't break the peel, Manech is alive.
Audrey Tautou stars in another beautifully made film by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The story mixes romance, mystery, and war, and looks absolutely wonderful throughout, due to Jeunet's eye for lovingly detailing his sets and his approach to special effects.
The story is set around WWI. Two lovers are separated. One is Tautou as Mathilde, a nice enough girl who has a crippled leg due to polio. The other is her fiance, Manech, who was shipped out to war in the trenches. Along with four others, Manech had himself shot in the hand in an effort to be shipped back home, but the plan has backfired, and the men have been sentenced to survive in no man's land.
While many believe all of the men punished this way died, Mathilde finds evidence suggesting the possibility that some made it out alive.
What follows is Mathilde's attempts to track down the entire story of what happened to the punished men. During her search, she encounters a number of characters, including a private investigator who wants to help her, and some of the lovers of the punished men.
Tina Lombardi: I regret nothing. Except my hair.
Along with viewing the film from Mathilde's perspective, there are numerous flashbacks from different points of view, providing us more and more information about what happened in total.
As mentioned, the whole film, including the war scenes, are beautifully done. Jeunet has a particular style which works wonderfully for all of his movies. Its kind of like watching a fairy tale come to life. It shows the kind of love he has for making movies, working not to throw emotions at an audience, but draw them in through the way he handles his cinematography.
I also felt drawn in by the mystery aspect of this story. I really wanted to find out what happened to these characters, and its very neat to see the various events occur, which work to resolve each one.
Overall I very much enjoyed watching the film, as it looks great, and the story was engaging enough as well. And of course Tautou is always a delight to see.
[The mail man skids in on his bike, on the gravel road]
Sylvain: Every time you do that I have to pick pieces of gravel out of the grass.
The Postman: Sir, whenever I see a gravel road, I feel I need to enter with style.