Amelie (France/Germany; 120min.)

directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
starring: Audrey Tautou; Mathieu Kassovitz; Rufus
Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain
Bob says: "Amélie, Amélie, Amélie. What can we say about Amélie?

Well, we can talk about how it answers the questions that were raised by the complete fiasco that was ALIEN RESURRECTION: was it that Jeunet was no longer working with his old partner Caro, or was it Hollywood? It was Hollywood. Mystery solved.

We can discuss the use of time: how particular times are pointed out in the voice-over, and we often get shots of clocks: clocks in train stations, the clock on the Glass Man’s TV. We can contrast this with the general atmosphere of the film: the way Caro has turned Montmartre into something out of time; a sort of eternal Paris, complete with that exceedingly Parisian music (but the inexplicable absence of berets, poodles, and black-and-white striped shirts). Nah, we don’t need to talk about that, or the photographic style that draws the film out of reality and into its own little world.

How about the idea of the vicarious life? The outsider looking in, and what it takes to bring them into a life of their own – how many of us are the girl with the glass of water, or wish we were the person she’s thinking about. We could talk about that, I suppose, but I don’t think we will.

Magical realism, perhaps? Lots of it in there, after all… Nah.

Here’s what I want to say about Amélie: it is the sweetest, loveliest, most joyous and life-affirming film I’ve seen in I don’t know how long. I didn’t stop smiling for a moment. I’m completely in love with this movie. It’s like a magical, stylish version of CHACUN CHERCHE SON CHAT (try saying that one dix fois rapidement)." 5 cats
Clinton says: "The thing about Amelie is that she doesn't actually change anyone in an unnatural way. The possessive guy in the cafe remains as such. The hypochondriac is still a hypochondriac. The jerky grocery owner remains a jerky grocery owner (granted, a paranoid one). She makes little changes, but unlike Chocolat she does not completely turnaround anybody's personality (I just did not buy Alfred Molina's character reversal after gorging on chocolate. How uncharacteristic). Also, unlike CHOCOLAT, Amelie is not "magical", which is an easy plot convenience that always annoys me.

"The end of Amelie is the key. She finds happiness for herself, which is really what matters in the end. You can do all the good deeds you want, but it won't mean anything if you aren't, you know, changed by it. Amelie was. I think that is the important distinction from her just being a do-gooder."
Diane says: "The NYT reviewer compared AMELIE to an early issue of 'Wired.' While I enjoyed the quirky and fun first segment (loved being reminded of those children's entertainments such as the talking chin, and how the likes and dislikes were thrown in), I was irritated by the rapid-pace narration that didn't let up. In the end, the story left me cold."
Hilary says: "I have been quite anxious to see this film, having heard and read so many good things about it. I'm pleased to report that I wasn't the least bit disappointed, as I often am after such a build-up.

"I found Amelie to be funny, dark, delightful -- overall thoroughly charming! Always happy to see a film that combines romantic and fantastical themes without becoming wholly ridiculous or saccharine.

"The cinematography was gorgeous, especially the utterly saturated, rich colors.

"If a cynic such as myself can't find anything to criticize, I must urge anyone who hasn't seen it to do so."
Howard says: "Ah, the French. So romantic or least that’s the stereotype and the newest French film from the great director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet (DELICATESSIN, CITY OF LOST CHILDREN), won’t put an end to that. In fact, it will perpetuate the belief beyond all reason. You see Amelie is a film that should melt the heart of the most frigid cynic, but you know cynics, they just won’t let go of their hurt.

"The story involves a woman who discovers the ability to make other peoples’ lives better, but won’t use that power on herself. That’s the simple. The complex is the film itself. It is beautiful, colorful, quirky, funny, strange, moving, lovely and romantic as all get out.

"Each new conquest of Amelie’s is stranger and more complex than the last and almost all of them reward you with a great laugh or the ability to put yourself in her shoes and feel a sense of accomplishment of making others happy. However, as you sit there basking in the afterglow, you also feel the underpinnings and loneliness that she feels. She won’t let go of it. She doesn’t feel she deserves it, so she continues to manipulate others into happiness therefore she doesn’t have to deal with her own pain.

"Don’t fret though. Into Amelie’s life walks a man of mystery and good looks, who, from the moment they lock eyes, knows he must meet this wonderful and strange girl. Thus begins one of the most bizarre and fun courtships ever put to film. They put up posters around town asking to meet, play scavenger hunt and wear disguises all because Amelie isn’t comfortable with herself.

"Jeunet’s sense of timing and humor work well for this film. His quirky camera angles and movements and use of special effects actually add to the story and don’t distract. Plus he’s worked hard with his crew to bring color and amazement to Paris that could only be real in the movies." 5 cats
Jim says: "A Telluride Film Festival favorite was AMÉLIE a 2001 film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (CITY OF LOST CHILDREN, DELICATESSEN). In this charming film, the title character, played by Audrey Tautou, uses her intuitive powers to influence the lives of those around her with comic results. I thought it a little repetitive and Amalie too manipulative, but enjoyed it and would recommend it."
Kevin says: "I saw AMÉLIE last night...i agree wholeheartedly with Hilary. I really loved this film, it made me smile for the rest of the night--similar to my reaction to MOULIN ROUGE. Audrey Tautou is amazing. Cinematography is so rich...out and out wonderful movie." 4 1/2 cats

Laura says: "This French submission for this year's Foreign Language Oscar has been embraced since its debut during the Cannes Film Festival (although it was controversially not part of it). While I had a few problems with it (someone PLEASE tell me where I've seen the garden gnome/kidnapping/world travel subplot before!! It's driving me nuts, but I know I've seen this concept used), it's a whimsical and charming film and I'm betting the Academy embraces it." 3 1/2cats
For more of Laura's review: ""

Les says: "The other day my wife Sandy and I saw AMÉLIE, which I thought was a pretty good film. But something happens to me when I see a good film--I get carried along. The world changes for me and I live in that film for a while. That's what happened with AMÉLIE. It wasn't quite CHERBOURG, (you know, with absolutely everyone carrying umbrellas around) or DERSU UZALA with the frostbite. It was more like we took the French way home, because all around us couples were riding together on motor scooters and smiling in a French smile. Soon I was riding a motor scooter, and smiling real French. Amélie's cool arms around me. My heart skipping in time with the frantic editing. Scooting along at a breakneck pace. Call me Maurice! 'Amélie, my neck!' I said. We stopped at a cafe and she rubbed my neck. 'To the left more,' I said in French. We drank Pepsi Lite. (Yes, Pepsi Lite!) And Amélie taught me some card tricks that she didn't know in the movie. The waiter brought us no bill. Apparently we were free to sit there for the length of the film and drink free of charge. We did! I told Amélie what she might find in my time capsule--an arrow head, turquoise, a Fanner Fifty, Bridge-It. Her capsule? She said, 'See AMÉLIE 2.' 'How is it possible,' I asked. 'How does it happen, to live in a film this way?' Amélie said, 'You got it wrong. You see, the film lives in you.' 'What did you think of GIGOT?' I asked, but she was gone and I was back in my car. 'I doubt if she ever heard of that film,' said Sandy. 'Make a left here, Frenchie.' I said, 'The name is Maurice.'"