Amelie (Le fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulain)


Godmother of Outcasts, Madonna of the Unloved…

I’d heard of Amelie pretty much since it came out, but never made the time to see it. I’d heard how unique it was, but wasn’t all that keen on foreign film at the time. I can say that I’m sad I haven’t seen it before now, but to be honest, I’m not sure how I would’ve taken to it given my tastes in film when I was younger. I can say for sure that, now, I am certainly glad to have seen it, and if all goes well, I might even personally add this one to my home collection; that’s how well I took to it.

The film is so full of love for life and the many wonders of human interaction that bring us all joy that it is simply fit to burst. This film is so modestly cheerful, with such a wonder and awe-full look at life that I can hardly believe this is the same Jean-Pierre Jeunet behind the darkly comic Delicatessen; then I watch scenes like the ones involving Amelie messing with the grocer’s apartment and I’m reminded that, yes, this is the same guy, all right. I love how Jeunet absolutely fills each shot of the film with so much happening and so much detail that no matter where you look, there is always something to catch your eye, something to pique your attention; from the standout production and art design to the amazing cinematography, the film never seems to err in any regard. The unequivocal star of the picture is Audrey Tautou, who skips and flits around the frame with impish delight; her face and eyes are so expressive and full of varying emotion that she carries the film single-handedly, were it not for the equally embracing supporting players, who all have a role to play and (thanks to the surprisingly immersive narrator) never seem like a jumble of characters.

The film was so unbelievably watchable, thanks to Amelie and her vivid and eclectic imagination, and her efforts to change the world around her for the better were always entertaining, if maybe not the most straight-minded, but hey, nobody said film characters had to be perfect; it’s the imperfections that make them human, and while Amelie feels almost like a cartoon caricature, the film reminds us often that she is human as well. I could gush on and on about the technical aspects of this film and why it’s so well done, or about the brave choices the film makes that totally and completely work (and aren’t just there to break the rules), but for once, I’d be doing a disservice to anyone who has yet to see the film; it simply must be experienced for yourself. I’ll say this; if you don’t like this film or its main character in particular, you may very well be such a sullen-hearted husk of a human being that I wouldn’t care to know you. No offense, of course.

Arbitrary Rating: 10/10


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