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Amelie (2001)
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Review Date: September 27, 2001
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Writer: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Guillaume Laurant
Producers: Jean-Marc Deschamps
Actors:
Audrey Tautou
Mathieu Kassovitz
Rufus
Plot:
A peculiar French girl grows up lonely with her father and doesn't quite know what she wants out of life. One day, she falls upon something, and believes that her ticket to happiness may be in helping others. She starts with the people around her, but when she suddenly falls for her own guy, she can't act strongly enough because of her shy and dreamy nature.
Critique:
A clever, quirky, original French flick set in a picturesque Paris, featuring an endearing lead with a giant imagination, much loneliness and a little bit of love for everyone. This is a "feel-good" kind of movie, a fairy tale for grown-ups who are bummed out about life. It doesn't pretend to be deep, it doesn't weigh itself down with long expositions or intricate studies of its characters, it's basically just a "cute movie" in the same vein as CHOCOLAT and PAY IT FORWARD, with some amazing visuals and incredibly nice intentions (and if CHOCOLAT was somehow able to nab an Oscar nomination for Best Picture last year (a sham on so many different levels), you might as well slap this film up for consideration also, since it's quite a bit better and much more original than the former). One thing that this film isn't though, at least according to me, is the best film of the year (it was bestowed the honor of "best" in at least 3 different film festivals so far this year). It actually managed to stagnate a little bit about halfway through and it just went on for way too long (it's a little over two hours but it felt even longer), with much of the second half of the movie devoted to many different characters, all of whom weren't as interesting as the lead, and a lot of indecisiveness from Ms. Amelie herself, which got frustrating. Thankfully, this film doesn't bog itself down with too much of that stuff, and actually goes out of its way to invent new ways to shoot scenes, to integrate moments of fantasy into its fabric and to transport the audience inside the imagination of this kind-hearted French girl.

On the whole, it's a lot of fun and it carries a beautiful message of love and support for your fellow man. The lead, Audrey Tautou, is perfect for the role, and gives you enough moments of truth to develop her character into someone that you care about by the end of the film. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast isn't as well-developed, and even though most of them are pretty appealing, a couple could've been left out to save time and at least one was left stranded plot-wise, by the film's end (what happened to the guy in the café who was spying on his ex-girlfriend the whole movie?). Now I haven't seen too many recent French films, I will admit, but if this is the kind of "scene" that they're developing over in "le pays du vin", I wouldn't mind catching more of their flicks in the future (CRIMSON RIVERS was another French film that I saw earlier this year, which I really liked- ironically, that film was directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, who is the co-star in this film). Granted, the English subtitles got a little tough to keep up with at times (I speak and understand French also, but some of the local colloquialisms went over my head), especially since the film's visuals were so intriguing that you just couldn't help but constantly gawk at them, but the general idea, the background music, the nifty French neighborhoods, the very creative way of enveloping the audience into the story-line from the start, were all very easy to appreciate, and I for one was especially glad to have seen this movie during these trying times in the world. In fact, I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a jolly ol' time at the movie house, with a particular emphasis on folks with a lot of imagination, a little loneliness in their lives and many dreams in their hearts. And this guy directed ALIEN: RESURRECTION? Get outta here!!

Note: I especially loved the way that the script detailed and showed the loves/hates of everyone with exact mentions in the film. It was very original, very well shot and very nostalgic, as many of us were able to relate to the behaviors described. Good stuff!
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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