Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

Amélie – 2001

amelie_ver1The French contribution to the cinematic world as a whole has been something rather extraordinary, and continues year by year. From the selection of French films I have seen, there appears to be a strong vibrancy in each picture, no matter the tone or theme. Of course, there are some classics I am yet to see, and over time, my opinion may change, however for now, I’ll remain optimistic about the nation in general. There are those modern “must-sees” that have been released after the turn of the century that supposedly changed the game with their mastery. “Amélie”, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 feel-good quirk-fest is one of these films. 

“As Parisian as you can get” is something I’ve heard from many when discussing “Amélie”. Set in the French capital (obviously)“Amélie” tells the story of a sweet and curious girl of the same name and her journey throughout the city as she deals with mystery, justice, the past, and above all, love. Played iconically by Audrey Tautou, the character of Amélie is a very watchable one as she possess numerous qualities of a solid female protagonist. As previously mentioned, “Amélie” is an archetypal feel-good film, however it is one that’s not for everybody. Amelie-0148Not really knowing what to expect, I went into “Amélie” with an open mind but an immovable preconception that it would blow me away. This was of course very unfair to the film, but surprisingly, “Amélie” did just that, but in a strange and different way…

Stylistically, “Amélie” is rich and potent. It has a fantastic look to it through the mixture of convention-breakers and general strangeness. The sequences which see Amélie break the fourth wall are also a special treat. The characters are interesting and unique to themselves, plus the narrative is very confined and particular to a small group of people which is lovely to see. Amélie, with her cute mannerisms and sense of style is a fascinating and warm protagonist that possesses a lot of qualities and layers that are touched on as the film progresses. A scene in particular sees Amélie take the form of an MI6 agent in some ways, giving Bourne-style directions via a payphone to a particular individual. Let’s just say that it’s the funniest and sweetest scene in the film and one that I’ll ever forget. She also goes to the effort to become Zorro during her personal “vigilantism spree”, if you will. Amelie-0893After watching “Amélie”, whenever someone asks to picture an archetypal French girl, she’ll be there, front and centre. It’s most likely not the case,(I’m sure not every Parisian girl dresses as Zorro and visits photo booths), but Australians can stereotypically be ones to do, well just that; stereotype…

Compared to other French films considered “classic”, I enjoyed “Amélie” more than “The Intouchables” (2011) but slightly less than “À bout de souffle” (1960). There’s an argument to be made that without “À bout de souffle”, we wouldn’t have “Amélie”, but that’s for another day. I thoroughly enjoyed the music of “Amélie” and the performances were highly commendable. It’s framed very well and shot excellently as a whole, in fact it’s one of the film’s best features. The film offers a fantastic look at Paris, exploring the hidden gems that are off the beaten track, at least as far as a tourist is concerned, as well as the glorious offerings from the heart of the city. The narrative components play very well together, and even the smallest of details can be seen to serve a crucial purpose. For a film that is ‘feel-good’, ‘lovey-dovey’ and heartfelt, “Amélie” could have easily plummeted into cheesiness and sap. Thankfully, it did the opposite and really shone with it’s spirit and heart. 

Amelie-0957“Amélie” is a fantastic example of modern French cinema, something we should continue to appreciate today. It has sparked an interest to pursue more of the classics and maybe learn a little French along the way. Funnily enough, it sits lower than I’d expect on the “Top 500” list, but there was a nice double page spread in the magazine about Amélie’s good deeds which was a joy to read! Speaking of the word, ‘joy’ is definitely something “Amélie” will bring to you as a viewer. If you’re a fan of the slightly absurd, the surreal, the whacky and whimsical, the beautiful, the magical, the heartwarming, the quirky and The French, a prime example is right here waiting for you…

4.5/5

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One comment on “Amélie – 2001

  1. Noémie
    March 22, 2015

    That movie is definitely a monument in my dear country. I watched it several times and I could see that it was a well loved movie everywhere else I’ve been. (And I realised that it has many different names depending of the country…). For me it’ll still be “le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain” or “Amélie Poulain” when you’re lazy.

    I understand the view from a foreigner watcher but I can say that the vision of the movie is mainly from Montmartre, and not completely Paris (Montmartre being such a unique district in Paris, the feeling there is very different from the rest of the city) and that Amélie is far from being a stereotypical French person haha.

    From Jeunet and with Audrey Tautou, I would recomment “un long dimanche de fiançailles” (a very long engagement). The tone is very different though.

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This entry was posted on March 5, 2015 by in International Cinema and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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