Amelie Movie Review

After only a few films have I been left with an indelible sense of wonder and amazement. After watching the stunning and beautiful Amelie, I've been struck again. This is truly a touching, honest, emotional roller coaster ride, equipped with powerful but subtle scenes of unrequited love, comfortable loneliness, visual wonder, imaginary worlds, and phantom characters guarding the hearts and souls of their mental caretakers.

Amelie delivers the goods on all levels, with crafty storytelling, superb acting, and clever directing. The film follows the exploits of the young Amelie (Audrey Tautou), a shy, introverted girl with a dysfunctional past who lives alone in a small apartment in Paris. Amelie spends her days working at a local Parisian café, pines for the love of a strange boy who stalks the instant-photo booths of the Metro, and silently observes the lives of her neighbors.

One day, Amelie discovers a small tin box in the wall of her bathroom filled with a young boy's playthings, marbles and metal racecars. She decides to return the box to its original owner, thus returning the childhood memories held in the box to their rightful purveyor. In turn, the box acts a catalyst for Amelie's interactions with her neighbors. As she emerges from her self-inflicted emotional shell into their world, her imaginary friends -- in full CGI glory -- watch vigilantly over her as she ventures into the world of temptation, compassion, and unrequited love. The humor is sharp and witty, the characters speak not with words but with long, calculated movements, and the greatest joys are not always found in the greener pastures across the valley but in your own backyard.

Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet is no stranger to making odd and wonderful films (with fellow co-director Marc Caro), such as the delectable Delicatessen and the inventive The City of Lost Children. Back in 1997, though, Jeunet headed for Hollywood, directing the abysmal Alien: Resurrection. Rest assured that Amelie proves Jeunet is back on top. Jeunet's camera work veers between the sudden urgency of a caffeine-induced fit to the lackadaisical wanderings of a lost child. The CGI effects bring to life the animated characters of Amelie's mind and emotional states.

But the real find of the film is without question Audrey Tautou. Her bright, wide eyes, full of perception and passion, drive the intoxicating allure of the film. In numerous subtle glances, Tautou convinces us of the planes she inhabits -- the imaginary and the physical.

Amelie stands as a testament that film, as an art form, can deliver both entertainment and enlightenment to the masses. Jeunet's simple story of an innocent girl with a big imagination whose only wish is to be loved is as powerful as they come. Highly recommended.

The Amelie DVD is a fantastic two disc set, full of extras that the film's legion of fans will eat right up (no pun intended). Highlights include Tautou's screen test, a "making of Amelie" short which actually focuses on the making of Tautou's hairstyle, a few outtakes/goofs, dozens of trailers and TV spots, and countless interviews. A few other highlights show the making of all the little sub-stories in the film, from the gnome's worldwide adventures to the 15 orgasms to the countless photo booth pictures. Highly recommended.

Aka Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain. Aka Amelie from Montmartre. Screened at the 24th Annual Mill Valley Film Festival.

She's Amelicious.


Amelie Rating

" Essential "

Rating: NR, 2001


More Audrey Tautou

Mood Indigo Movie Review

After a string of projects in America (including the masterpiece Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), French filmmaker Michel Gondry returns home to let his...

Critics Differ On Whether Michael Gondry's 'Mood Indigo' Is Too 'Whimsical' Or Displays His Unique Vision

Mood Indigo has not fared well with critics on the day of its release in the US. The French language film has been described as...

Mood Indigo: Audrey Tautou & Romain Duris Fall In Love In Fantastical Paris [Trailer & Pictures]

Set in a fantastical Paris where fire alarms scuttle across rooms and cars hover above the city, Mood Indigo is a love story starring Audrey...

Mood Indigo Trailer

Colin (Romain Duris) is a rich inventor living in fantasy Paris who has focused his career on advancing his latest machine, the pianocktail; a piano...


Chinese Puzzle Movie Review

French filmmaker Cedric Klapisch keeps the tone light and the serious themes just under the surface as he revisits the lively characters from The Spanish...

Chinese Puzzle Trailer

Xavier Rousseau is heartbroken when his British wife Wendy leaves him for a man she met in New York and takes their two children with...

Therese Desqueyroux Movie Review

Although this remake of the 1962 classic is beautifully shot and acted, it's so hollow and bleak that it leaves us cold. The topic at...

Michel Gondry's Stunning Surrealism Returns in 'Mood Indigo' With Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris (Trailer)

Judging by the latest trailer from Michel Gondry for 'Mood Indigo' starring Romain Duris (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) and Audrey Tautou (Amelie, Priceless),...