Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (Amelie)

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Dominique Pinon, Isabelle Nanty, Serge Merlin.
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content.

Review by Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles <evy@filmhead.com>
December 14, 2001

Amelie, the film, is a beautifully sad, sweet, quirky fairy tale. It is gorgeously filmed with the sumptuous super-saturated colors of a children's picture book and the gentle voice-over makes you feel like you are listening to a bedtime story told by some eccentric French relative. The movie does not reach the dark beauty or inventiveness of Juenet's most famous films (Delicatessen and City of Lost Children) but it is a nice journey into lighter territory.

Amelie, the girl, grew up with an antisocial father, a protective mother, and absolutely no friends that weren't imaginary. Amelie, the woman, still prefers to live in fantasy and interacts very seldom with the people around her -- until one day when she does something nice for a stranger and decides to dedicate her life to helping others from the shadows. While helping others and punishing some, Amelie falls in love with another eccentric loner and begins to woo him in her own strange way.

Most of the movie is told in narrative voice-over rather than dialogue, which adds to the storybook feel. The voice-over tells the audience what each new characters likes and dislikes are as well as other intimate details -- fears, hopes, childhood disasters. This reveals that everyone in the film has their secrets strangeness, loneliness and fears. The film is populated by people who can't relate to other people, which leads to bittersweet, humorous and painful interactions.

Audrey Tautou as the grown-up Amelie really holds the film together. She is enchanting and childlike without being creepy. The other actors give wonderful performances especially Serge Merlin as Emily's Neighbor and Jamel Debbouze as the grocer's assistant, but they are all overshadowed by Ms. Tautou's overriding charm.

The film is as odd and charming as its leading lady. It is a little jarring and distancing as well. Just like its leading lady.

Editor's Note: In my opinion, Amelie is the best film of the year, even surpassing the brilliant Memento. I found the film to be quite warm and embracing, just like Mademoiselle Tautou. This will be the film to beat at the Academy Awards on both the domestic and foreign fronts.


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (2001)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
Amelie: Original Soundtrack Recording -- Compact Disc


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