July 24, 2010

Amélie (2001) by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Writers: Guilliaume Laurant (scenario & dialogue) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (scenario)
Cast: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Lorella Cravotta, Serge Merlin
Music: Yann Tiersen
Production: France-German, 2001
Run Time: 122 Minutes (129 min-France)

Hi, welcome back to Film Focus today I pick a French movie to review, it was recommended to me back when I was taking film classes at high school. The film is called Amélie or “Le Fabulex destin d´ Amélie Paulain” (it´s original French title), it´s a romantic comedy directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet in 2001 (he also directed Alien Resurrection-1997) and Written by Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant. The movie tells the story of a very shy and lonely waitress who live her life with a lot of imagination.  After one “fortunate accident”, she decides to change the life of those around her for the better; however, she doesn’t struggle with her own problems. The film won Best Film at the 2001 European Film Award, four Cesar Awards in 2002, two BAFTA Awards in 2002 and was nominated for five Academy Awards in 2002.

Amélie is a very particular girl as she was raise in a very “particular way”, Raphaël, her father is a schizoid ex-army doctor, that during the usual monthly medical checks-ups on Amélie, he misdiagnosed her with a rare and dangerous form of hypertension. Because of her pathology she was home teach by her mother, Amandine, a strict and neurotic schoolteacher. Therefore, Amélie grow up without having contact with other kids and she developed a very imaginative mind. When Amélie was 6 years old, her mother died from a freak accident. They were visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral when a suicide woman that had jumped from the top of the cathedral landed on her. Her father who was merged in a terrible depression started to work on an eccentric memorial for his wife. As a result, Amélie increase her anti social behavior. Amélie, now a young woman works as a waitress in “The Two Windmills café”, located in Montmartre. The place consist a collection of eccentric characters, to begin with, the owner of the café is a limping ex-circus performer.

One day while Amélie was hearing the news of Princess Diana´s death on TV she drops a bottle cap that luckily hit a lose bathroom wall tile discovering a hole in the wall. Behind it, there was a small, old metallic box contained toys and photographs that belong to a boy that lived in the same apartment decades earlier. Amélie feels it would be great to return the box to the men who hide it. Anyone would just deliver the box and have a chat with the man, but not Amélie she is too shy so she left the box inside a phone booth and call when he is near, after realizing that there was nowhere at the phone the man discovers his old box. Soon all the memories from his childhood came back and he is deeply moved. Upon seen the reaction of the man and feeling very good about what she did, Amélie decides to devote her time to bring happiness to those around her. Therefore, she becomes a secret angel as she executes these complex plans to affect the life of the people she cares. She helps her father to follow his dream of touring around the world, she fixed a co-worker with one of the costumers in the bar, she brings peace to a woman in her building and she helps Lucien a young boy that suffers the bullying from Mr. Collignon a greengrocery owner.

One important character is Raymond Dufayel, Amélie´s neighbor who suffers a medical condition called “brittle bone condition” (Osteogenesis Imperfecta), his bones can break easily. Due to his condition, he spends his days inside his apartment, one passion he has is to re-paint the Luncheon of the Booting Party (Le Déjeuner des canotiers) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. He argues that during all this years he couldn’t capture the excluded look of the girl drinking a glass of water. They both discuss what the girl is thinking and what represents. Dufayel implies that the girl in the paint could represent Amélie and her lonely life. Therefore, Amélie is force to think about her own life. As the movie progress, she encounters this strange man name Nino Quincampoix, who loses an album photo. Very attracted to him she decides to play a cat and mouse game with him around Paris before returning his album. Again she is too shy to approach him, is Dufayel who encourage her to make the decision to meet the man. Finally, the two lovers meet and they began to have a relationship.

Now that we are done with the plot let’s talk about other aspects of the movie. The character presentation is done in a very funny way, there is a narrator that explains what the character likes and dislikes, there is no way I could describe how good they are you have to see it, but I have to comment I never seen other movie pull this out. Another thing that you probably notice from the beginning of the movie is the used of the different color tones (red, green and yellow). Now this was digitally color-corrected at 2k resolution and the reason for this was that the colors of the film were inspired by the paintings of Juarez Machado, a Brazilian artist. The movie receives good critics but there is one point taken by the critic Serge Kaganski of Les Inrockuptibles. He points that the reality portrayed in the film of this imaginary France is far from reality, he comments that there is no black person in the whole movie, something that I did not notice. However, I don’t think the movie is racist or the director didn’t wanted to portrait black people, I think the movie represent a set up, not the reality or how France should be. Well that´s all for today I decided to change the order of the list of movies I posted, so the next movie will be The Wave (2008) [Die Welle], so as always have a good night until next time.
By Sebastián Nadilo

Trailer: Amélie trailer (In French – No subtitles) - Amélie trailer (In English)
Music: La Valse D'Amelie [Orcherstra Version] by Yann Tiersen - La Valse D'Amelie (Piano) by Yann Tiersen

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