Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, et
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
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I like to look for things no one else catches.
"Amelie" is a wonderful film that will touch you, make you giggle,
and make you glad you are alive. Unlike a cheezy romantic comedy where
you are supposed to feel angst for the characters, this film makes you
love the characters and root for them in their quirky, unexpected habits
and tastes. It is, admittedly, a story with very little external conflict,
but it tells a lovely story in a cinematic and warm way. None of the characters
are perfect, but all of them are perfectly human.
Reviews of this movie seem to use words like "charming," "magical,"
and "quirky;" you will see why when you watch Amelie dip her
fingers into a huge barrel of lentils just to enjoy the sensation in her
The film centres around a young girl who has been somewhat of a fish
out of water her whole life, but has retained a sense of wonder and of
enjoyment of little things in the world around her. Amelie works through
her insecurities during visits with her father and especially with a very
insightful and caring neighbour, the "glass man," who cannot
go outside because his bones are so brittle they break at the slightest
contact. Through her "good deeds," taken on after a chance discovery,
she learns how to create love in the world around her, and that love can
touch her, herself.
I love my formulaic romantic comedies, but this has none of the painful
"I know what's coming next" of the typical Meg Ryan film. Instead,
"Amelie" constantly throws curves at you to make you laugh and
experience the joy of being alive. Please watch this film (and don't let
the rating throw you off -- the "orgasm" scene is literally
about five seconds long) and laugh with Amelie as she gets revenge, plots
romance, sets wrongs aright, and strives for her own happiness. I can't
tell you enough good about this film.
Note #1: You will like it if you liked films like "Jeffrey"
or "Notting Hill" with quirky love stories. You will *not* like
this film if you want to see: Things blowing up, Drug addictions, A "Shocker
Twist" somewhere in the plot, or Extremely Challenging Philosophies
On Life. That's not to say the film isn't intelligent; it just challenges
you in a different way.
Note #2: Some of the people in this film look like REAL PEOPLE. If you
prefer everyone in your films to look like Cameron Diaz, this is not recommended
Note #3: If you don't speak French and you have vision problems, you
might want to be careful with this DVD as the subtitles are quite faint
and often set against bright colours.
Perhaps the most charming movie of all time, Amelie
is certainly one of the top 10. The title character (the bashful and impish
Audrey Tautou) is a single waitress who decides to help other lonely people
fix their lives. Her widowed father yearns to travel but won't, so to
inspire the old man she sends his garden gnome on a tour of the world;
with whispered gossip, she brings together two cranky regulars at her
cafe; she reverses the doorknobs and reprograms the speed dial of a grocer
who's mean to his assistant. Gradually she realizes her own life needs
fixing, and a chance meeting leads to her most elaborate stratagem of
all. This is a deeply wonderful movie, an illuminating mix of magic and
pragmatism. Fans of the director's previous films (Delicatessen, The City
of Lost Children) will not be disappointed; newcomers will be delighted.