Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 143: Amélie

Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #45
Year: 2001
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring: Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz

Two stray observations: First, calling my posts "Day __" is erroneous since I've taken time off and will probably continue to take time off. Furthermore, I'm not even sure if I have the number of movies I'm on – the only thing the "Day" nomenclature should now be measuring – right, and I'm sure as hell not going to go back through and count. Second, in the AV Club's excellent book of lists, Inventory, there's a rather famous one that made its way into the book's subtitle regarding "manic pixie dream girls," characters like Natalie Portman's in Garden State, and upon watching Amélie for the first time today, I want to know how in the hell Audrey Tautou's title character didn't make the cut. She's a spontaneous, unstable, ever-smiling ball of energy and whimsy unlike anything I've ever seen. And her film, as I enthused on Facebook to a swarm of agreement from friends, is quite possibly the best French film ever made – or, at least, quite possibly the best of the handful I've seen.

Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's style reminds me a bit of Terry Gilliam's. There's lots of scenery to take in; the pace is rapid and doesn't leave much time for introspection; there's countless sight gags and a vibrant color palette. The acting is expressive and effusive. The tone is whimsical. Unlike most of Gilliam's films, which employ all of these things to a fault, Jeunet makes them his strengths. It's hard to imagine the character of Amélie Poulain acting in any other way than Jeunet let Audrey Tautou act. Without Jeunet's whimsical (That's the third time I've used a variation of that word in this post, and for that I apologize, but if you've seen Amélie, you know why I keep using it) hand, in fact, the film falls flat. How can a movie about a girl obsessed with manipulating and meddling in other people's lives (albeit with the intent of making them happier) be this sunny and fun? Well, it's a combination of all the abovementioned traits that the director stuffs into his film. Tautou may have created an immortal character with her portrayal of Amélie, but the credit for this film's greatness owes at least as much to Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

I'll close this post with something kind of unconventional. Rarely have a posted on Facebook or Twitter about a movie and received such a unanimous positive response, and I want to let my friends speak about this film since I'm still new to it. It should be noted that, in an hour or so, six people "liked" my status about watching Amélie for the first time, and it got seventeen comments. Here's a few:

"I love that movie. It's so whimsical and heartwarming."
DUH .. get on the boat."
AHH it's SOOO good."
It's a wonderful feel-good movie all around. It's what made me fall in love with Audrey Tatou."
"Welcome to the club! :)"
one of my favorites movies!!!"
Its really hard not to love that movie...really hard."

Even the two people who commented who didn't like it had caveats that basically amounted to them saying it was a good movie. I declare Amélie a Facebook hit.

The Good: The visual identity forged by the director, and Tautou's disarmingly charming performance as the title character.

The Bad: Hmm...a little lack of focus? A little too much lingering on plots that weren't about Amélie. These are nitpicky; I loved the whole thing.

The Skinny: #45 is a little too high, but it was fantastic. Top 100, no doubt.

1 comment:

  1. Didn't really like it much. #45 is way too high, imo... But I guess I am not really the target audience.