Amelie (2001) – Jean-Pierre Jeunet

The final recommendation from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book following my screening of Pretty Woman is a film that is pure joy captured on film.

Jeunet’s beautiful comedic romance brought Audrey Tautou to international attention, and did something that usually takes a lot of effort – got a North American audience to watch a foreign language film.

The story follows the life of Amelie, played with a wide-eyed sense of childlike wonder by Tautou as she decides, one day to help others around her find joy and love, to take pleasure in the small things in life, and along the way falls in love herself.

Brilliantly scripted by Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant, the film has a whimsical sense of humour, and wears its heart on its sleeve, as Amelie goes about trying to make the lives of everyone around her better, with the occasional fourth wall break.

There are running gags, beautifully crafted moments and Tautou’s big brown eyes capture Amelie’s innocence and naivete perfectly. The film is engaging, and entertaining, making you smile and laugh one moment while tugging at your heart strings the next.

Through pictures and photo booths, garden gnomes, Renoir, and videotapes she is slowly drawn into other’s lives and finds herself falling in love with Nino (Matthieu Kassovitz), even as she seeks to teach a mean grocer a lesson on the proper way to treat people (these sequences are brilliantly funny).

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The entire film is whimsical magic that dares you not to get wrapped up in the story, and it’s impossible not to.

There are very few truly magical films that can just transport you to another realm with their images and story, and when they come along, they need to be treasured and they need to be shared.

It’s been a long time since I watched this one, and I’m not kicking myself in the butt for not having watched it more regularly, because this feeling of joy, happiness, and that little tear in your eye (I’m not crying your crying) is a wonderful sensation, and movies that do that for us need to be celebrated.

Amelie does that every time. And it needs to be seen, shared, spoken of, and loved.

Jeunet has had a fascinating career, and no matter the film, he always tries to give his best effort, but I believe Amelie will be seen as his crowning achievement.

If you haven’t seen this one, it’s past due, if you have, isn’t it time to watch it again?

I love this gorgeous, heart-warming film.

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