Skipping stones: One of Amelie's favourite things...
Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie PoulainSHADOWS MUST-SEE
dir Jean-Pierre Jeunet
scr Guillaume Laurant, Jean-Pierre Jeunet
with Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Jamel Debbouze, Urbain Cancelier, Serge Merlin, Dominique Pinon, Isabelle Nanty, Clotilde Mollet, Claire Maurier, Artus de Penguern, Yolande Moreau
release UK 5.Oct.01
Canal+ 01/France 2h00
From the outlandishly stylish imagination of Jeunet and Laurant (City of Lost Children) comes a simple, warm, deeply wacky Parisian romance.
Amelie (Tatou) grew up in an absurdly protective home and is now struggling with her independence in the big city when an event inspires her to dedicate her life to helping other people. So she sets off on elaborate schemes to quietly improve the lives of everyone around her, from coworkers (Nanty, Maurier, Mollet) to neighbours (Debbouze, Cancelier, Merlin) to her lonely father (Rufus). Along the way she stumbles across the lonely, quirky man of her dreams (Kassovitz), then sets out on a quest to reel him in.
Hilarious God-like narration gives the film a fatalistic destiny that guides all the characters forward, drawing gut-busting laughter from tragedy and lumps in throats from silliness. It's extraordinary, really, the way the film so gleefully plays with our emotions. Sure, it's pure fluff--there's nothing terribly serious going on here at all, besides an urge to find (and spread) joy.
The performances all fit the style perfectly, slightly over the top and yet never cartoonish. Tatou is a terrific centre point with her cheeky facial expressions and a comic physicality reminiscent of Lucille Ball. And the supporting cast are all developed with eccentricities that cancel out their stereotypes. Every little side-story works nicely--never becoming obvious or cutesy, but always funny or telling. And jammed with hilarious details.
It's all a bit fragmented and chaotic, and some of the plot threads don't quite gel, perhaps because there's too much going on to keep up with it all. But it's so entertaining and endearing that by the time it reaches its wonderfully romantic conclusion, both Amelie and the film itself have completely won our hearts.
Anthony S, London: "I so enjoyed this. What a fabulous film! I loved the little internal world they created for her. I must see Delicatessen, which I've always been meaning to see but have never got round to." (26.Oct.01)
Jo Caswell, West Sussex: "This was beautifully shot, in a way that make Paris look its quirky, hidden best. The cast was wonderful - witty, sensitive.... and as for Amelie herself (Tatou), she was a perfect heroine - delightful to look at, and a delight to see how she herself changes through the changes she brings about to others. What is it about French cinema? There is something really special about listening to this expressive, beautiful language ... the subtitles do not distract from the film - they only add to what is already brilliant. This was a wonderful film, simply told, about people that you grow to care about very much. Its humour and its heart stayed with me for a long time." (7.Nov.01)
IndigoJen, Los Angeles : "Well, Amelie won my heart! This was one of the most enjoyable movies I've seen this year; subtitles and all. Wonderfully quirky, intriguing and heart warming, She is sort of a French cross between Jane Austin's Emma, and Ally McBeal. The gnome bits and the break-ins were hilarious, the mysterious man in the photos really had us going, and her romantic advances and retreats were familiar territory. But this movie was not simply a bit of fluff; there were pieces my friends and I didn't put together 'til discussing the movie afterwards. I will definitely go see this one again, and have recommended it to all my friends!" (11.Nov.01)
Fiona C, London: "Great fun and really enjoyed it. Was it the same people that made Delicatessen? It seemed very similar. Thought it was wonderful and was so glad there was a happy ending!" (14.Nov.01)
Robert, New York: "Such a sweet-hearted, feel-good fable. If you are not in the mood to see a challenging, thought-provoking film, see this. Not only will it cheer you up, but it will make you feel differently about the way you interact with people. Featuring a great performance by Audrey Tautou, and brilliant direction by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Amelie is pure magic!" (14.Nov.04)
gogogadget, email: "The film Amelie is a psychologically plausible insight into the human psyche that rattles the inner equilibrium." (16.Sep.07)