The talented minds behind Amélie, the quirky 2001 French film that introduced doll-eyed Audrey Tautou to American audiences, focus their vibrant visual sensibility upon a darker tale. Superstitious Mathilde (Tautou) refuses to believe the news that her fiancé, Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), died during the war and sets out to find him in A Very Long Engagement. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet expertly depicts the grim realities of trench warfare during World War I while simultaneously dazzling us with the beauty of 1919 Paris and the French countryside. But, as even Jeunet concedes in his commentary (in French with English subtitles mon Dieu!), ''the story is so complicated. . .even we were lost at times.'' Moreover, the clever narrative style that made Amélie so endearing disrupts the timbre of this somber piece. Think Edith Piaf singing a Tammy Wynette tune. EXTRAS The film's deft, seamless blend of CG effects of Paris, of an exploding zeppelin is revealed in a 73-minute making-of and two featurettes. In his commentary, Jeunet playfully commends Jodie Foster's cameo: ''She has a nice future in front of her.''