32 of 1001 Movies: Amelie (2001)

There are many ways you could describe Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie.  Imaginative, emotive, thoughtful, and perhaps even odd. What might appear too whimsical for some is seen by an eye for attentiveness to detail to others. Every piece of the film is filled with visual effects to keep the viewer captivated, and bring heart to an offbeat film.

Amelie (Audrey Tautou)  is a woman who has grew up in loneliness at the mercy of her parents’ protective nature. She is nurtured under a fear of having bad health and death. As a consequence, she leads a life avoiding attachments. That changes when she sets out to help the people beginning with a man who has a toy box left behind within the walls of her apartment. Her desire to reunite him with this box leads her to becoming a matchmaker of sorts. This lead hers to take notice of a man, Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz), who she finds herself falling for. As Amelie draws out of her imagination, and into reality she find herself becoming open to the companionship of Nino that she has denied other men. With tinges of comedy among the romance a subtle adventure begins to unfold.

With computer-generated animation added you have the idea of a fantasy land. Jeunet takes his skill of blending emotions with the tone of the film to bring the viewer a piece of visual candy. The warm striking colors bring you into the world of Amelie. There are times where scenes will bring you joy as she grows in her ability to reach out to others. In once instance she helps a blind man take in the world around him with her ability to visualize as she helps him across the road. Other scenes leave you on the verge of tears as Amelie realizes how badly she wants to be open to love.

Tautou is a quiet, but strong force on the screen. Each stage of where Amelie grows is handled with as much delicateness the actor provides. Never does it feel overwhelming how big the changes she makes are. Her non-verbal way of communicating with the camera speaks more than her words. For a while we’re not even sure where the build up of the movie might lead. Amelie is changing for certain, but where she will take it is always a mystery.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet has put together a film with themes that transcend time. Loneliness, hope, death, and love are mixed into a world where imagination covers are greatest fears regarding these things. A tiny scene where Amelie thinks her love has arrived to only find her cat show us how easily we can get lost in the imagination of things we hope for. Just as we begin to believe those things won’t happen we see they awaited us right around the corner.

Rating 4 of 5.

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