Amelie (2001) Short Review
I’ve seen Jeanne-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie well into the double digits now and I think I like it more than when I first fell in love with the film (and the title character). This was Audrey Tautou’s international introduction. She is an electric onscreen presence.
Not to say that the director isn’t largely responsible for the success of Amelie. His films are all imaginative and driven by the visuals.He frames and lights some breathtakingly stunning shots but I guess that’s be expected filming in France and working with the angelic Tautou.
He shoots very small objects in extreme closeup. There are also a lot of extreme closeups of the ctors and actresses. He makes full us of Tautou’s beautiful visage, framing her face in countless reaction shots.
Jenuet’s style is easily recognizable even to the most casual of moviegoer. If you saw two of his films you’d know they were by the same director even if you weren’t familiar with his work. Or you might think those damn French just make moviess that all look alike.
His films are very French. The storytelling harkens back to past French directors. He seems to be the French Wes Anderson in terms of the look, tone and storybook style. Or maybe Anderson is the American Jenuet.
The soundtrack is very Parisian also. The accordion melodies create a French backdrop even with a black screen. Amelie’s soundtrack is quite enjoyable. I regularly listen to it or at least mix it in with other soundtracks.
Jenuet is one of those directors that prefer the imagination to reality. His films exist in a storybook. Things that usually would never happen in the real world, happen with regularity in a Jenuet movie.
He doesn’t just move the story from scene to scene. It’s like he thinks he’s telling the story to a child and has to be spontaneous to keep the child’s attention. Where the film is going is predicatable. How it gets there is a whole different animal.
The tale to be told here revolves around the title character Amelie. She is good natured and imaginative, but not entirely happy. Her world is changed when by fate she discovers a dusty covered box full of toys and photographs hidden in the wall. She wonders who it belongs to and it becomes a mystery to be solved that adds a little fulfillment to her life.
That leads to other little adventures into affecting others people’s lives. The movie goes from there. I wouldn’t want to spoil anything more for anyone. It’s a wonderful film, but any film is best when you don’t know anything about it.
With all that said, I think while Jenuet’s films are good, I don’t think his films worked as well until he found the proper muse. In the past that was Dominique Pinon (who also appears and is great here as he’s been in Jenuet’s other movies).
Tautou is a star and shines brightly here. There are other good performances in the film. There are a number of character actors that add to the quirkiness of the proceedings. Mathieu Kassovitz, has a smaller but important role.
He’s an actor of the international variety, also. I have seen him in American films and cmpletely did not recognize him from those or vice versa. He’s somewhat of a chameleon, looking completely different in films like Munich where he played the toy/bomb maker…
There are quite a few iconic scenes in the film. Better still, it does have an abundance of laughs. Maybe the lone drawback is that it goes a little long for a film that everyone knows where the destination will be.
Even so, there are still a number of surprises with the director texturing and detailing every scene with his artistic mind. Amelie made my Top 10 Films of 2001 and also my Best 100 of the 2000s list.
4.5 of 5