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
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
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.
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.
($$$$$ out of $$$$$)