Friday, November 14, 2008


Amélie; romantic comedy, France, 2001; D: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, S: Audrey Tautou, Yolande Moreau, Mathieu Kassovitz, Dominique Pinon, Rufus, Jamel Debbouze, Isabelle Nanty

In '73, Amelie was born in Paris. Her father is a cold doctor and her mother dies when a woman committing suicide falls on her. With 23 years, Amelie finds a job as a waitress in a small cafe and dreams about love. In her apartment, she finds a small box full of memories which she returns to her owner and, experiencing satisfaction, decides to do good deeds from there on. She matches the jealous Joseph with a friend, makes company to an old painter with fragile bones and makes a fake love letter of a husband who died in and sends it to his widow. She returns a lost photo album to Nino, an employee in a porn shop, and falls in love with him, but is afraid to talk to him. But they still end up as a couple.

Brilliant director Jean-Pierre Jeunet used his creative style to cower up the banal-sugary elements and the trivial opening of the story and craft a shining romantic grotesque, his dream project and his best film, which was nominated for a Golden Globe (best foreign language film), 5 Oscars and actually won 2 BAFTA awards (best screenplay, production design). Undeniably, some moments are kitschy and pathetic, but many directors would love to make such highlights that Jeunet gathered here: a fish tries to commit suicide by jumping out of the water; a photo of a cloud that looks like a rabbit; Amelie literally "melts" away from her feelings into water; or the especially irresistibly cute moment where she tries to shyly seduce Nino by leading him to a bunch of photos showing her where she wrote "Do - you - want - to -meet - me?" on her stomach. If one also ads all the humorous clips from television, like when a man is performing a salto while a dog is climbing around his body, then it becomes clear how funny, alive, fresh, unusual and stimulative such small slices of life can be, while Audrey Tatou is simply irresistibly cute and contagiously fun as the mischievous title heroine. It's unbelievable how such a "foreign language" film can be so popular and effectual to a world wide audience. It's even more unbelievable how Jeunet managed to pull off such a film - "Amelie" is the sweetest thing.


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