The Stainless Steel Rat (stainsteelrat) wrote,
The Stainless Steel Rat

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Retro Review

Watched Amélie (2001). Directed and co-written by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The film starts with an introduction to the title character from birth to early adulthood. This is done in a unique style by Jeunet, who tells us about Amélie and a number of characters in terms of their likes and dislikes. Amélie's mother was killed by someone committing suicide from Notre Dame Cathedral, while Amélie was only a few years old. So this, and an over compensating father, mean an unusual childhood. The rest of the film is spent with Amélie as a somewhat lonely but very caring young woman. She falls in love with a man she sees rifling through bins next to a train station photo booth, although he doesn't return it and runs off. Amélie then becomes obsessed with finding him, as well as righting wrongs done against the people in her life. And so the story unfolds. This is another of my retrospective reviews, as I first saw Amélie in the cinema, with some friends, back in 2001/2002. I hadn't really wanted to go and see it, but was bullied into it by one of the friends (thanks Tanja!). From the first moment of the film though I knew this was something different, with Jeunet's wonderful approach to characterisation and story telling. The story is told almost like a fairy tale in a modern setting, with odds 'n' sods of fantasy. It's also important to emphasise that Amélie is not a wholly serious story, there are moments of brilliant comedy as well as times that it tugs hard at your heart strings, like the best comedies do. Although it seems wrong to class the film as a comedy... fantasy... or anything else. It is its own thing, as most if not all of Jeunet's films are. Audrey Tautou is simply charming as the adult Amélie Poulain, in a role she has yet to equal in other films, and arguably the role she was made for. A wonderful soundtrack by Yann Tiersen accompanies the visuals. If there were to be any complaints about Amélie, it would probably be along the lines of it being twee and unrealistic. Although I'm sure most people don't go to the cinema wanting realism. Jeunet has not matched Amélie, neither before or after, for me. The City of Lost Children (1995) is a spectacular film though, and Jeunet's second best so far for me. A Very Long Engagement (2004) is a far tougher watch - a serious romantic tale again starring Tautou - but I enjoyed it. Delicatessen (1991) left me a little cold, no pun intended, but was still entertaining. Alien Resurrection (1997) was a bigger departure for Jeunet - the only film he hasn't written - and partly against popular opinion I enjoyed it (but didn't love it). Micmacs, Jeunet's most recent film, was released this year but doesn't hit UK cinemas until Jan 2010. I'll definitely be going to see it, by hook or by crook. Anyway, Amélie: Recommended for those who can cope with and enjoy both foreign and something other than mainstream cinema. 5/5 (Excellent)
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