Wednesday, February 1, 2012

100 Movies - No. 6: Amelie

6. Amelie (2001)
Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
122 minutes, French Language
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz

Several of my favorite directors produce movies which have a distinct feel, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet is one of them. He can take the darkest topics and infuse them with his own brand of humor. Amelie is not one of his darker films, but it feels like part of his familiar world.

The star of Amelie is Audrey Tautou and she shines in the role. The movie isn't serious at all and is filled with amusing stories and delivered in a whimsical way. We are introduced to the characters by a narrator who tells us their likes and dislikes. I love the use of narration when it's done well.

Amelie is a young woman who accidentally discovers a box of childhood treasures left hidden in her apartment by a previous tenant. She decides to track him down to return it and resolves to do similar good deeds if the outcome is favorable. She's not completely good though. One person in particular annoys her so she decides to play a few pranks to teach him a lesson.

The movie has plenty of mystery and eventually turns into an unconventional romance. The color scheme places an emphasis on red and green and the world seems surreal. The setting is Paris, but this isn't the Paris that I know from my visits.

Audrey Tautou is an incredible actress. She can convey a lot of emotion without saying a word. Her face is one of the most expressive that I have seen. If you have only seen her in The Da Vinci Code, Amelie is a great chance to see her act in her native language.

I know people who would avoid seeing Amelie because it's in French and it's a romance. That would be a mistake. The movie is a pure delight and has a unique style. It won't appeal to everyone, but those who like it will really love it.

If you like Amelie:

If Audrey Tautou is the reason you like the movie, A Very Long Engagement is probably the next one to check out. It's a more serious story, but Tautou is again the leading character and Jeunet's signature humor and style is present throughout. It might even be a better film than Amelie.

If you enjoy the unusual presentation and Jeunet's humor, all of his other films are worth seeing. I would certainly suggest Delicatessen and Micmacs at the very least.

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