Jul 20, 2012

[Movies] Amélie (2001)

Amélie remains to be one of my favorite movies - and ironically it is also one of the few movies that I've ever watched in a theater alone. Sure, it was the UP Film Center and the place was packed with other students who also wanted to see the film, but I didn't go with any friends or even classmates. I just went to see it and my life was all the better for it.

It was also among the first of many foreign (non-US) movies that I'd get into and it still holds the distinction of being one of my favorites. Plus Audrey Tautou is such a fantastic actress, especially given her performance here.

It's somewhat funny to consider that this movie may not e the typical kind of science fiction and / or fantasy romp that I'd typically get into, and yet it stood out so much, Maybe it was because I was already old enough to better appreciate concepts of love and romance. Maybe at the time I was opening myself up more to the need for the fantastic in our typically hum-drum lives.

Or maybe the movie just came along at precisely the right time in my life for me to appreciate more than I would have at any other time. And it's that kind of thinking that is probably why the movie works for me so much.

Synopsis: Amélie (or The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain) is a 2001 French romantic comedy film written and directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet together with Guillaume Laurant who helped develop the dialog for the screenplay. The movie won many awards including Best Film at the European Film Awards, two BAFTA Awards, four César Awards along with 5 Academy Award nominations.

We begin with our protagonist Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou), a young girl who works as a waitress at the Café des 2 Moulins in Montmarte. She's quite the introvert given the death of her mother and her father's general withdrawal from life after her death and thus she copes with the world in silence through the wonders of her imagination. Thus she celebrates the small pleasures in life instead of looking for romantic companionship and such and feels pretty much content with her life.

Then a series of events happen in her life that lead her on a journey of adventure and discovery. The news of Lady Diana's death somehow leads to her finding some boy's lost treasure box of childhood trinkets. Eventually she pledges to try to make the world a better place. Thus she plays the role of matchmaker, a secret good deed doer and even as the eyes of a blind man.

The movie explores a lot of theories and concepts when you really sit down and think about it ranging from the joys of romantic love all the way to the possibility of predetermination of life events and the role we play as individual agents of change. And of course there's the overall sense of magic, whimsy and wonder that comes with how Jeunet has portrayed his view of the world from Amélie's unique perspective.

And I think that's one that that really struck me about this movie - the realization that we don't have to take the world at face value. Too often we get too lost in the shuffle of the sheer concreteness of reality. We have our jobs and our bills and other obligations and all of these things just seem to take away from our ability to appreciate just how beautiful the world is. And it fell upon this amazing young woman to share that message with more people through this movie.

Audrey Tautou is a fantastic actress and her portrayal her is almost like so many different characters in one. She is amazingly expressive whether with her just her eyes or with her face as a whole that she speaks volumes even in moments of silence. This movie really put her on the map and I can't imagine anyone else managing to bring Amélie to life in the same way she did here. And that says a lot about her skills as an actress - she just makes you want to smile and laugh and celebrate every moment with her!

And like most good movies, the film has so many additional levels of meaning beyond what is immediately apparent that you'll find yourself finding new insights with every re-viewing. And as I write this review, I feel the need to dig for a copy once more to see just what I might find. If you haven't seen this movie yet, then you really don't know just how much of your life you're missing.

Amélie is a wonderful movie that is about the beauty of life, love and the little things in life. The vision behind the movie is a rare one indeed and I've yet to find another movie quite like this one. And thus I happily rate this movie as 5 scenic locations that the garden gnome decides to visit out of a possible 5.

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