Movie Review By Moira Sullivan
Amélie (Audrey Tautou), a waitress at the Les Deux Moulins (Two Windmills), a café in Paris, has had a loveless upbringing. Even her goldfish thought so. The high point of her childhood was the monthly medical checkup by her father. Excited about being touched, her heart starts to beat rapidly. Later on when she's grown up, Amélie sets her sights on Nino who spends his time making a scapbook of discarded photomat pictures. Both of them had wanted a brother and sister growing up and the lightning bolt hits them. It takes a long while for Amelie to let go of the game of pursuit and become domesticated but we know she will, eventually.
Since the historic setting of Amélie is at the time of Lady Di's tragic car accident, one can safely assume that the film was a while in making. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet admits that he got called on to make Alien Resurrection in between and had to let it go for a while. The humanitarian efforts of Lady Di are raised by the film, through references of Mother Teresa to eventually Amélie.Good grief!
Jeunet loves cartoons and did art work for sophisticated French comix called 'Fluide Glaciale', 'Charlie Mensuel', and 'Fantasmagorie'. And bringing cartoons to lifeis what Jeunet seems to do best. You can imagine him sitting on this film many years, refining it, polishing it, hand crafting it, just as the painter in the film refines the girl drinking wine in a copy of Renoir's Luncheon at the Boating House. For Jeunet, Amélie is his Renoir girl. And for the painter, its not LadyDi-it's Renoir!
People were digitally removed from non gay gay Paris. And not only that, all the drollness replaced by non-gay gayness. Perhaps too clean as the multicultural Paris becomes more or less ethnic French. The railway stations are squeaky clean and the same goes for the Notre Dame , the site for a staged suicide. This is as Jeunet says his 'Paris of Dreams', just as he saw it when he arrived in the 1970's. Clearly art cinema with fantastic lighting and coloring, that prevent it from being an otherwise flat film, considering the girl gets boy theme. It's a cartoon come alive. And all the characters are caricatures: like Georgette and Joseph, Nino and Collignon. So Amélie is sidetracked, but beautifully, exquisitely and creatively. Some of the skits go on too long and not all work, but only a few-- such as when we get to the woman who likes bubble wrap, or the boyfriend who works in a porn shop, a serious flaw. Otherwise, as Godard says, all you needis a girl...with perfect lips like Amelie.
© 2001 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 12/01
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