Review of 'Amélie (Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain)'

amelie.jpg In Paris Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) is the only child of Raphael (Raphaël Poulain) and Amandine (Lorella Cravotta); a doctor and a schoolteacher, respectively. Raphael (Rufus) is a serious and distant father, never making physical contact with his daughter except for a monthly medical check-up. Deemed by her father to be too delicate to attend school Amelie is home-schooled by her mother who is killed by a freak accident outside of Notre Dame cathedral. With her father wracked by grief Amelie finds ways to entertain herself with a hyper-active imagination. Amélie eventually takes a job as a café waitress in Montmartre. After having several unsatisfactory love affairs she takes an interest in the other inhabitants of her apartment block. Finding a box hidden in her room she determines to return it to it's owner leading her to a doing “good deeds” for others including her father, a man who collects discarded pictures from photo booths, a woman mourning the loss of her cheating husband, a dim-whited clumsy grocery employee, and the unhappy love lives of her café colleagues. Along the way she discovers what has been missing in her own life…

This is quite a quirky film which is no surprise given it is from the director of later film Big Bug that may not be to everyone's taste with the occasional shocking elements such as brutal violence and sexual content in what is otherwise a pleasant, fun and quite funny film. Audrey Tautou is amazing as the innocent but sly but kindly Amélie whose positive outlook on life and living is a joy to behold. Her bittersweet character is played perfectly by Tautou as you can sense just below the service there is the perfectly judged degree of sadness. Drawing the viewer in you really want her to find happiness in her own life as she so ingeniously attempts to help others in finding happiness in their lives.

The oversaturated colours and clean-ness of the film reflects Amélie's simplistic view on life bringing a great deal of warmth and charm. Though the film does occasionally drag at more than 2 hours long it deserves the viewer's patience which is ultimately rewarded. Though many of the issues are complex and tragic Amélie's innocent approach to them provides a clarity that is often missed leaving the viewer feeling happy and uplifted by the end.

A wonderful, now classic quirky, fantastic film of innocence that somehow cuts to the core of loneliness and loss while at the same time being a huge amount of fun to watch.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2022-06-11

Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Studio: Claudie Ossard Productions

Year: 2001

Length: 122 minutes

Genre: Comedy

Other reviewed films by Jean-Pierre Jeunet: