#50: Amélie [2001]


I find myself unable to say a bad word against Jean-Pierre Jeunet's adorable Amélie (in full, that's The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain): for once, a film which makes you care without forcing you to cry into your Earl Grey, for which I was grateful. As much as I hate the word quirky, I'll have to apply it to Amélie, in all the word's full extent of vagueness.

A bit of background: the film is set in modern Paris and follows the peculiar life of Amélie (Audrey Tautou), who decides it's finally time to engage with an unfamiliar world when she finds a little boy's hidden box of treasure. Moved by an old man's joy at being reunited with his long-lost trinkets, Amélie decides to become a frequent do-gooder. A voice-over narration guides us through Amélie's story, but somehow I didn't hate it. Usually, I detest voice-overs on principle as an overly easy narrative option, however Amélie herself frequently breaks the 4th wall, engaging with the viewers directly. This makes us feel like acquaintances, accompanying her on this journey of self-discovery, and the whole thing becomes just that bit more delightful.
Home-schooled by eccentric parents, the socially-awkward Amélie has to break through her psychological barriers to enter into a world of (mis-)adventure. Suffering from a similar inability to look particular people full in the face (it's always irrational and unpredictable), I truly feel her pain. The main plot-line follows her convoluted attempts to gain the attentions of Nino Quincampoix (Mathieu Kassovitz), who might or might not be seriously cute. I haven't decided yet. What really makes this film, however, are all the sub-plots with their own eccentric but lovable characters filling out this biopic of Parisian existence. I suppose you could accuse Amélie of being cutesy, but there's a sort of bawdy humour to it all too, with Nino contemplating his mysterious admirer whilst sticking price-labels on boxed vibrators in the sex shop where he works.
What I'm saying is, watch this film. Don't turn the audio to dubbed, because the oh-so-French accents make it (I walked around house saying 'pas Bredoteau, c'est Bretodeau!' for about a week.) You'll laugh freely again, and love life again, and want to go to Paris again. I promise.

Comments

  1. You know this is a remake and infernal affairs is 100x better!

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    Replies
    1. This threw me for a second - are you talking about The Departed? I've never seen Infernal Affairs. Should I add it to the post-list list?

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