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A 2001 romantic comedy film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

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A visual feast and emotionally delightful comedy.

  • Nov 13, 2011
Rating:
+5
**** out of ****

"Amelie" is a brilliant work of cinema that contains one of the most delightful and instantly endearing heroines ever put on film. Written and directed by the French visual magician Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the film is quite the sucker punch; spiked with the kind of imaginative visual flare that you'd expect from the attached director, but with more depth in its story than the man was ever thought capable of handling. Just look at Jeunet's earlier films - "Delicatessen" and "The City of Lost Children" - and you will see that he'd never made something quite like "Amelie" before he finally did. Sure, I've liked the filmmaker's other films just fine; they are often easy to swallow and likable in their exploration of pure pleasure and whimsy. But something whimsical can only go so far, and I think Jeunet understands this. And that is why his scenario-based screenplay and visionary eye for the beauty all around us are two expected qualities that really work here. If it's a whimsy comedy, then "Amelie" is one of the best.

Amelie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) was raised through a sheltered life-style. Home schooled and without friends for her entire life; she was at the mercy of her imagination, which was quite expansive indeed. In her fascinating, hopeful, yet troubled childhood; she lost a parent, kept one, and lacked all communication with the outside world. So when she grows up to become a pleasant young lady and has to face the real world, she doesn't know quite how to cope with it.

We are given a highly detailed and often times quite funny look at the heroine's childhood days. After this, we are given a glimpse of her later life; as a waitress for a small café. The café itself is really something else; so much so, in fact, that Jeunet feels the need to introduce each eccentric character within it. He does so quite passionately, and sometimes, even hilariously. But "Amelie" is not about the café and those who often drown their sorrows while in it; Jeunet's film is, indeed, the kind of cinematic trip that inspires through a whole new kind of journey.

Amelie's quiet life changes forever on the day that Princess Diane dies. In shock upon hearing the news via the television, she drops a bottle cap, which rolls onto the floor and makes contact with a bathroom wall tile. She removes the tile and behind it, she discovers a little box filled with the childhood treasures of a now-aged male. She is intent on finding the original owner, and she eventually does. Pleased by the end results of her first quest, Amelie decides that it would do her good to make others happy; she takes up the duty and responsibility of being a hidden, shy "Guardian Angel" type figure. She enjoys such a position for quite some time; opening new romantic doors for friends to close other troubled ones from the past, and also helping the assistant of a sadistic and bullying grocery stand worker earn his place in the world (and at his work).

I guess the most important points in Amelie's self-journey would be the moments where she meets her sheltered and elderly neighbor, and also when she falls in love with a strange man named Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz) who would rather spend his days collecting the fragments of photographs from under photo-booths. They meet through fate and in the end, fall in love with just the same philosophy at play. In short, "Amelie" is indeed a very romantic film; is studies love, embodies itself in it, and is playful with the philosophies and musings that come with such a concept all-the-same. It's such a great, beautiful, entertaining film that I don't dare go any further in the description of its plot. I'll leave you to figure out the rest and put the pieces back together by yourself.

I don't remember being completely blown away by the film upon my first viewing. With films like this one, I rarely am. I guess it all comes down to whether I'm willing to give it a few more chances, and since my initial viewing experience left me very pleased indeed, I was open-minded and have since watched it a few more times. I think I now understand why it's such a highly praised and respected film; it is superb not only for the visual stylistics that Jeunet applies to the story at hand, but also solely for the story itself. Love stories -and this is certainly one of them - are seldom told with such wit and flawless understanding. We sympathize with the characters and we like most of them. This is an essential ingredient when the going gets rough, and emotions are at play. There is some reasonably resonance to be found here. The film is not a tear-jerker, so don't go in expecting THAT kind of emotional power, but maybe the film works on different levels. I dunno. Maybe I'll have to go back and watch it again (and again...and again) to decide. Luckily for me, I wouldn't mind doing that the slightest bit.

And I say that with honesty. I enjoyed every last second of the film; every joke and every moment of emotions ranging from joy to melancholy were absolutely entertaining in every sense of the word. You'll have tough luck finding a better human dramedy when a fantastic example like this one is existent. Some might find the combination of "real" drama and stylish visuals distractingly surreal; I think it makes the film the unique and delightful little artistic treat that it is. I believe it is a film so utterly unique that a great review for it is nigh impossible. So if you leave this review thinking that I have not given out enough information regarding the specific scenes that I liked and if the film has any "flaws"; I am telling you right now that this is simply the best I could do when it came to reviewing "Amelie". I loved the film, I really, really did. But even those who loved, loved, loved it - much like me - will have trouble summarizing it in short. Words are limited; and we must preserve. So there's that; here's this; and "Amelie" is a one-of-a-kind work of art that I whole-heartedly recommend to just about every soul out there with a keen eye for humanity and creativity in the way of joyous lunacy.

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November 16, 2011
I still have not seen this....thanks for the reminder!
 
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More Amelie reviews
Quick Tip by . February 12, 2010
A charming, ableit unusual, romantic comedy from France. I love the performances, but some of the humor and story felt a little flat. Cute.
review by . January 28, 2002
Pros: Fanciful and a delight      Cons: a little too cute     The Bottom Line: A wonderful film and a delight. I would pay full price to see this film again.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals no details about the movie's plot. It's so nice to see a good powerful foreign film. It gives such a different perspective which I find very refreshing.      From the start, you know you are in for a wild ride - I wasn't sure …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Wiki

Amélie is a 2001 romantic comedy film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Its original French title is Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain ("The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain"). Written by Jeunet with Guillaume Laurant, the film is a whimsical depiction of contemporary Parisian life, set in Montmartre. It tells the story of a shy waitress, played by Audrey Tautou, who decides to change the lives of those around her for the better, while struggling with her own isolation. The film was an international co-production between companies in France and Germany.

Amélie won best film at the European Film Awards; it won four César Awards (including Best Film and Best Director), two BAFTA Awards (including Best Original Screenplay), and was nominated for five Academy Awards. (See below for other awards and recognition.)
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Details

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Foreign
MPAA Rating: R
Studio: Miramax Films
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