Amelie (2001)

 

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Written by Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Guillaume Laurant

Will Most Likely Contain Spoilers

A most beloved French film that I had yet to explore, Amelie was something of a silent killer. Despite the reputation, I did not know much about it, and when it came time to watch it, I found myself enjoying it about a million times more than I could have ever have hoped. There was such charm with the character and the film itself that I just loved and really connected with.

The story follows the title character of Amelie (Audrey Tautou) and her life as a waitress in Paris. It begins with her as a child, giving specific events and characteristics that helped shape her adult persona, then it moves on to her adulthood, as a twenty something waitress at a café. Her life changes when she finds an old box of childhood goodies in a nook in her apartment. She sets out to return the box to its owner, and when she does she experiences such a thrill that she sets out to improve the lives of those who deserve it, and pester those that do not.

The important story here though is not the stories of those around her, though they are great as well, but rather the story of Amelie. She seems to be living her life through the thrills of her friends and associates instead of through herself. This stems from her childhood and a stunted social development. She finds Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz) picking up discarded photos from one of those photo booths. The progression of their relationship is magnificent. The way that she leads him on and through hoops and ladders in her little sly game to protect her shyness about liking him is so charming.

Like everything in this film, charming rules the day, and I love charming. It is all of the little things that make this so brilliant. How Amelie finds relaxation by skipping stones (and we see her throughout scouting for new stones to throw), how she also finds relaxation through sticking her hand into a bag of rice or beans (something that I too find relaxing), but these are not commonplace things that usually bear mentioning, but they give Amelie such life, a vibrant personality despite her social shyness. I also loved how each character got their due. Although Amelie was the main character, the other employees at her café got storylines, her neighbors and produce men got their storylines. Everybody was involved.

This has quickly shot up my favorite films list because it is just my kind of film. Charming, happy, gorgeous (Bruno Delbonnel as Director of Photography), and just strange enough to make it interesting too. Not to mention how pretty and attractive the character of Amelie is (Audrey is a new crush). In a marathon thus far of otherwise great and spectacular films, this one might have been my favorite to date. Just two more to go: His Girl Friday and Singin’ in the Rain. Here is to hoping the brilliance continues!

**** – Masterpiece

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Saint Charles Preparatory School. He studied History at the University of Cincinnati, where he was a contributor of The News Record, the twice-weekly, independent student news organization. He has been writing film reviews and blogging since 2009.

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