Amelie (2001)

Amelie Simply Perfect
Originally reviewed November, 2001

I am the first to admit that I love Hollywood films. I sometimes have to be dragged kicking and screaming to independent or foreign films, dreading the gloom or the costumes or the pompous character studies they usually involve. But while I am the first to admit that I love the slick style of a film like Ocean’s Eleven and I adore the big money that it takes to get together the talent of Russell Crowe and Ron Howard for A Beautiful Mind, I am also the first to admit that Hollywood is NOT the be-all, end-all of film. And thank goodness for that.

And thank goodness for a little French film called Le Fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulain, better known to us as Amelie. I have seen other films this year and I will see the rest that Hollywood has to roll out during this Award season, but I am confident in this statement: Amelie is the best film of 2001. It’s the best thing I’ve seen, THAT I am sure of.

For the third time, I will not divulge too much plot information. But I will tell you that Amelie is a story of a French woman who wants to make a difference in other people’s lives and ends up finding love for herself. It is a charming, warm, wonderful film about one of the most unusual and enigmatic characters you will ever meet on film. Played by Audrey Tautou, Amelie is a woman who lives in her own world, until she realizes that there may be room for one more in her quiet, small life. This film also plays to our eternal hope that there is, in fact, one perfect person out there meant just for us.

The word that comes to mind the most when I think of Amelie is refreshing. There are all these ads on television hawking The Majestic as this season’s feel-good movie, the one that will temporarily erase the lurking sense of doom we all have had since September 11. Well, forget The Majestic. Go see Amelie. You will smile, you will be endeared, you will be taken in by a world and a character that will feed your soul and make you feel alive. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has delivered a masterpiece of light and sound, as the whole atmosphere of this film is fresh and alive. Modern Paris has never looked so lovely and has never been so charming.

Forget that you have to read subtitles. Forget that you have to travel a distance to find a theatre playing this film. Find it. See it. Not just for your soul, but for your love of movies.

There is no magical cure for what ails us, but Amelie is a good dose of medicine.

My rating: ****: Worth waiting in line