Audrey Tautou, who rose to international stardom with the title role in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's worldwide smash Amelie, reunites with the director for this drama, set during the darkest days of World War I and its immediate aftermath. Mathilde (Tautou) is a pretty but frail young women who was left with a bad leg after a childhood bout with polio. Mathilde lives in a small French village with her Aunt Benedicte (Chantal Neuwirth) and Uncle Sylvain (Dominique Pinon), and is engaged to marry Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), the son of a lighthouse keeper who is fighting with the army near the German front. Manech is one of five soldiers who have been accused of injuring themselves in order to be sent home; in order to discourage similar behavior among their comrades, Manech and the other soldiers are sentenced to death, and the condemned men are marched into the no man's land between the French and German lines, where they are certain to be killed. Mathilde receives word of Manech's death, but in her heart she believes that if the man she loved had been killed, she would know it and feel it.
Smothered by the indulgence of his rock star ranking, Jack White steps into the eccentricities of the supergroup, and at first glance, this seems to be a band where White's imposing presence could overshadow the rest. Not the case with these Raconteurs. Teaming with fellow Detroit songwriter Brendan Benson and Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler, the rhythm section from Cincinnati band the Greenhornes, White exhales a bit, deferring enough to his mates to make Broken Boy Soldiers play like a team effort. Following the Benson blueprint, "Steady as She Goes," which opens as a slice of 1960's radio pop, the record steers away from pigeonholing the rest of the way. White's in a Middle Eastern mood for the title track as he pulls off a wicked Robert Plant howl, while Lawrence and Keeler excel on the chorus-strong "Intimate Secretary" and the optimistic acoustic rocker "Yellow Sun." Like so many all-star bands before them, The Raconteurs could be one and done. But don't place the blame on this fertile and genuine debut.