42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
QUIRKY BUT FULL OF GALLIC CHARM! ****,
This review is from: Amelie (Two Disc Special Edition) [DTS] [DVD] (DVD)
Amélie is the feel good whimsical romantic comedy that has broken all French box office records (around 8 million people in France alone have seen it), charmed many British audiences and is now winning lots of fans in North America. But is it any good? In short, yes. It's very good.
Don't worry about the subtitles, there's no problem in following screenwriters Guillaume Laurant and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's plot. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's doe-eyed heroine Amélie (Audrey Tautou) has had a lonely childhood and an unsatisfying love life. Her father is a glum recluse, who never offered her any physical contact, warmth or love (but who cherishes his garden gnome) and her neurotic mother was killed by a suicide jumper who hit her on the way down outside Notre Dame. As a result, Amélie has become wrapped up in her dreams as a way of escaping her lonely life. By day, she waits table at a Montmartre brasserie frequented by many eccentric characters and at night, she goes home alone to a little box flat with a rear window from where she can spy on her neighbours and dream of what their lives must be like. Until one day when she discovers a box of discarded toys left behind in her apartment 40 years ago and begins a search for the man-boy who once owned them. Finding that she can make a difference to other peoples lives, Amélie's own life is given a new purpose and a new vocation but can she find love and happiness for herself?
Some critics have complained that Amélie's is a right wing exercise in nostalgia and that Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's depiction of Montmatre is too lushly perfect, whilst others have criticised it for being nothing more than a rip-off of Jane Austen's Emma. All of these criticisms are unfair (although there are obvious comparisons in the plot that can be made to Emma) and downright offensive. There is no obvious political agenda on display here and so what if the streets of Montmatre are picture postcard friendly? Amélie's Montmartre may just be a dream but it's a beautiful dream. Who cares if in the real France most people eat at Burger King or Mc.Donalds or shop at a supermarket for their groceries? Amélie's Montmartre is an enchanted place, where the water's of the canals are blue and sparkling and the scenery picture perfect.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Director of the much darker Delicatessen and City of Lost Children), has created his own universe and populated it with some wonderfully eccentric characters, thus allowing some of France's finest actors to charm their audience with a proliferation of visual humour and pseudo-philosophical dialogue. In particular, Serge Merlin, the wise old artist from across the street, conjures up magical wisdom and steals most of his scenes, as does Rufus, as Amélie's morose father. However, make no mistake this is the rather beautiful and elfin-like Audrey Tautou's movie and she captures your heart with her big doe-eyes and her mischievous smile and plays the role of Amélie to whimsical perfection.
Amélie will capture your heart; make you smile, make you laugh and send you off into the night glowing happily, with a little bit of faith and hope in life restored. We all like to feel good about ourselves and Amélie is well worth checking out for anybody who enjoys a little romance and dares to dream.