Genre: Comedy, Romance
Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Jamel Debbouze
For many people Amélie, or to give it its full French title Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (The Fabulous Life of Amélie Poulain), is the definitive French film. Picking up five Academy Award nominations and winning a host of awards, it is immediately recognisable for director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s exotic colour pallet and depiction of Paris as a whimsical city of yesteryear.
It is very different from the directors’ previous offerings, which cover cannibalism (Delicatessin) and child abduction (The City of Lost Children) in fantasy worlds that share the director’s quirk style albeit with a much darker tone.
Amélie is a waitress in Montmartre who finds her calling is helping people in her own quirky way. She returns a box full of toys and memories to its now grown up author, tries to get her repressed father out of his shell and bring two eccentric individuals together. While it may seem saccharine there is an underlying darkness to Amélie. She makes a cruel grocer believe he is going mad in revenge for bullying her friend and many of the people she helps still have the same problems at the end of the film or they have different ones. That being said, there is no denying the film is a feel good watch. It is warm and funny and the unconventional relationship between Amélie and her love interest Nino is a joy to watch in comparison to the tired Hollywood rom-com clichés. Nino is of a similar sentiment, a collector of the strange, he had a similar isolated upbringing to Amélie so they almost seem destined to be together. This comes despite the fact that they only exchange a few words throughout the film.
The most rewarding part of watching the film however, is seeing Amélie working through her own problems. She is painfully shy and must resort to doing her good deeds from afar. Her loneliness is partly what drives her to help other people as evidenced by her creating a fake letter from her landlord’s dead husband to make her think he still loved her. Everyone in the film is touched in some way by Amélie, mostly for the better but it is not a sugary sweet mess, rather a gentle portrait of those who live on the fringe and indulge in the eccentric.
Don’t be put of if you dislike subtitles, it is definitely worth a watch!