Still in celebration of the International Women’s Month, let us look back at this French film about an extraordinary woman who strives to change the lives of the people around her for the better, yet failing at her own solitary life. Relive “Amelie”.
Amelie is a 2001 romantic comedy film co-produced between companies in France and Germany. Its original French title is “Le Fabuleux Destin d’ Amelie Poulain” which means “The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain”. It is directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet who also wrote the story along with Guillaume Laurant.
The movie is about a French waitress named Amelie Poulain who had grown up isolated from other children. Subsequently, she has developed an unusually active imagination to mask her loneliness. On August 31, 1997, Amelie, shocked by the news of Princess Diana’s death, drops a bottle cap that knocks into a bathroom wall tile and loosens it. Behind the tile, she finds an old metal box that contains memorabilia by a boy who hid it decades earlier. Fascinated by her find, she vows to find the boy which she successfully does, and the boy, who has then become a man, is moved to tears by the long-forgotten childhood memories and resolves to reconcile with his estranged family. Amelie is pleased with the positive effect of her act, and from that moment on, she decides to do good in the lives of others. Amelie becomes a secret matchmaker and guardian angel. To her co-workers at the local café in Montmarte… To her withdrawn father… To her neighbors… And even to strangers… But who shall look after her? When will she have the courage to overcome her own shyness and inferiority? When will she finally find the right love?
Amelie is a light comedy film. It is certainly not hilarious, and comedy is made simple, giving audience smiles and light chuckles throughout the movie. But beyond the comedy, the movie is certainly not shallow for it explores human kindness and strife in a funny way. It portrays a common trait to everyone – that is to attempt or persuade change to others, or possibly the world, yet failing to correct our own weaknesses. Theme is depicted in an everyday life, so scenes are raw, natural and believable, giving audience the feel of an ordinary urban neighborhood.
There are many symbolisms in the film. For example, Amelie fulfills his father’s dream of travelling the world by sending his garden gnome to an air-hostess who takes snapshots of it posing with landmarks from all over the world. Another is the copied painting where the painter can not quite capture the excluded look of the girl drinking a glass of water. For the painter, that girl comes to represent Amelie and her lonely life.
The movie ends satisfactorily for me. Amelie has accomplished her self-willed missions, and she herself finds the things that make her truly happy.
The movie cast has done well, too. The lead actress, Audrey Tautou, is perfect for the role, though she was not originally the first choice for it. She is pretty without being too beautiful, and comic without being foolish. She has wonderful expressions, especially the sparkle in her eyes. Since then, she has done many great foreign films like “A Very Long Engagement” and “Coco Before Chanel”.
The movie has been well received. It is one of many movie bloggers’ favorites. It was selected by The New York Times as one of “The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.” The film was a huge commercial success too, becoming one of the top-grossing foreign language films in the world along with Taiwan’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, China’s “Hero” and Mexico’s “Pan’s Labyrinth”. It was nominated for several awards including five for the Academy Awards. In 2001, it won several awards at the European Film Awards, including the Best Film Award.
Though Amelie is not of my personal favorites (simply because this is not my type of movie), it is certainly one of the most unforgettable, lovable and enjoyable films in the recent age.
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