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View Date: December 1, 2001

Cast

Audrey Tautou Amélie
Mathieu Kassovitz Nino Quincampoix
Rufus Raphaël Poulain
Yolande Moreau Concierge
Artus de Penguern Hipolito, The Writer
Urbain Cancelier Collignon, The Grocer
Maurice Bénichou Bretodeau
Dominique Pinon Joseph
Claude Perron Eva
Michel Robin Old Man Collignon
Isabelle Nanty Georgette
Clotilde Mollet Gina
Claire Maurier Suzanne
Serge Merlin Dufayel
Jamel Debbouze Lucien

Directed by:
Jean-Pierre Jeunet 

Written by:
Guillaume Laurant
and Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Official Site:
 
Amelie

Related Viewings:

Magnolia (1999)
Slacker (1991)
Emma (1996)
Delicatessen (1991)
Breakfast At Tiffany's

Official Site:
Heist Movie


Also see my reviews at:

 


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Amelie 
(Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, Le) 


Audrey Tautou has the look.  Those eyes, full of playful innocence and exuberance, and that smile which could melt the polar ice caps, make it no coincedence that she shares a first name with Ms Hepburn who also embodied those qualities.  As the centerpiece of Amelie, an amazingly sweet, wonderful and beautiful visual journey into the world of anonymous good deeds, Tautou carries the film on her spritely frame and brings us along on her playful quest to spread happiness and joy through a world that seems to lack it, or focus in the wrong direction

 

Recently, I’ve discovered that while it’s the larger things we seek, it’s the littler occurrences which hold stronger memories and relevance.  We, as people, are defined initially by our external appearances, but as someone learns more about whats inside, and underneath, therein lies the key to building a strong bond.  Amelie personifies this by relating smaller, seemingly inconsequential events together in its opening sequence, then defining each character by their minute likes and dislikes, even visualizing them for us.  We learn that Amelie’s father abhors clingy swim trunks, but loves cleaning out his toolbox.  Her mother dislikes touches from strangers, but loves cleaning her parquet floors and purses.  The early relevance of such material and petty events is not lost either.  Poor Amelie is disconnected from true love and emotion by parents who rarely show her attention, thus she retreats into her fantasy world, and we are taken along on the journey.  Her world changes one day, in her early 20’s, upon learning  of the death of Princess Diana.  Now its not this event pretell that changes her, but rather what happens afterwards, showing that its not always the actions, but the reactions, which make us who we are.  Based on a discovery, Amelie sets out to be a pied piper of happiness, by performing random, anonymous acts of kindness (witness a wonderful scene where she walks a blind man through the streets, describing everything from grocery prices to blooming flowers).  These acts are all craftily set into motion by the introduction of the residents of Amelies real world, we learn their faults, and quirks, and thusly each one is unraveled before us without us realizing how well we know each one.  Amelie sets out to improve everyone elses life, and maybe her own by doing so.  The film is a subtle character study, with a sweet core to its actions. 

The center of this core, undeniably, is Tautou, discovered by Jeunet on a movie poster, who embodies and makes this character hers alone.  Spritely dancing through the lives of others, she hearkens back, not unintentionally, to a young Hepburn (notice the scene where she dresses like her, scarf, sunglasses and all)  She has stolen my heart, not only with her looks, but with her attitude, energy, and that look, those eyes, that smile, so full of the life that most of us dream, but that she chases through the satisfaction and smile of others.  She is the title character, and she is this movie, and she makes this ride what it is.

Ultimately, Amelie is a beautiful journey and vision of the world through the eyes of a dreamer.  There is no end to the amazing potential of the human imagination, and its ability to generate imagery and ideas.  In Amelie, Jeunet not only modernizes Jane Austen’s Emma, but also mixes in doses of everything from Slacker to Don Quixote to Magnolia.  Along the way, he utilizes beautiful, and creative cinematography (possibly inspired, in at least one instance, by Ally McBeal) and an insightful script which borders on sugary sweet, but never crosses the realism line.  The prevailing emotion, once a movie ends, is what movies are remembered most for, and anyone who does not leave Amelie with a big smile, and tears of happiness, should have themselves checked for a heart.  It is nearly impossible not to fall in love with Tautou, cheer for her triumphs, cry with her sorrows, and melt with just a glance.  For a nation healing, and a movie community grasping to regain its feet again, Amelie shows that triumph can be found in the face of adversity, and that the simplest things to one person, can be the most important to another. I am Jerry, I like the smell of rainstorms, the feeling of cracking my knuckles, and the way that new shoes feel on your feet.  I dislike people who don’t pull all the way up at gas pumps, the smell of electrical wire burning, and movies that don’t make you feel that this one does.

  ($$$$$ out of $$$$$)