FILM OF THE MONTH

From Nov 2001
Film Review

Other October Releases

Film Review Hotline
AMÉLIE
5 Stars - Excellent


It’s French, it’s far-fetched, it’s just plain fantastic...

Official site (UGC, English)

STARS: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Lorella Cravotta, Yolande Moreau
DIRECTOR: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
SCREENPLAY: Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant
CERTIFICATE: 15
DISTRIBUTOR & IMAGE
Copyright:
Momentum Pictures
RUNNING TIME: 2hrs
OPENING DATE (UK): October 5

Also reviewed: America's Sweethearts

From its breathless opening to its inspired finale, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie redefines what is possible in the cinema. A paean to feel-good entertainment buttressed by a wonderful story, remarkable imagery, haunting music and a heart-stopping performance from Audrey Tautou, Amélie has more originality in any given five minutes than most films have in their entire running time.

Written with Islington-born actress Emily Watson in mind (hence the leading character’s name), Amélie is a change of pace for director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who previously directed the decidedly dark Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children and Alien: Resurrection. Apparently, Jeunet had reached a point in his life where he had exorcized certain demons and so resolved to make a positive, light-hearted picture, “a film that makes people dream, that gives them pleasure...”

A helter-skelter ride of ideas with anecdotes, themes, detours, lists, captions, coincidences and incidental detail, this gloriously funny, stylish and uplifting experience is both a celebration of life and the story of one Amélie Poulain (Tautou). Starting with the girl’s very conception in the womb, the film zips forward to her birth and childhood, where we are introduced to her suicidal goldfish Blubber and her aloof father, a doctor. As all our lives are moulded by our parents, so the emotional divide between Amélie and her father predetermines the outcome of her – and our – story.

So deprived of affection is young Amélie, that whenever her father gives her a check-up, her little heart races at the anticipation of physical contact. Thus she is deemed to have a heart defect, is kept out of school and so develops an inclination for solitude that persists into adulthood. Following the death of her mother – killed by a falling tourist – Amélie ends up living alone with her father and spends her quieter moments, among other pursuits, imagining all the orgasms simultaneously taking place in Montmartre.

When, eventually, Amélie is forced to interact with society, she devotes her life to anonymously helping others – and wreaking mischievous revenge on those deserving of it – before seeking happiness in the arms of another equally eccentric soul.

With its generous bonhomie, unexpected twists and ceaseless invention, Amélie is, in my humble opinion, not only the most accomplished film of the year but the best of the new millennium.

James Cameron-Wilson

Read our massive reviews section in this month's Film Review
Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2001. Not for reproduction.

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4 Stars; Recommended
America's Sweethearts • released October 19

FULL DETAILS AND REVIEWS OF ALL THESE AND MORE IN THIS ISSUE

5 Stars; Excellent
ANNIE HALL Oct 19
ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE
Oct 19
GHOST WORLD Oct 26

4 Stars; Recommended
BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF Oct 19

4 Stars; Recommended
THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE Oct 26
THE PLEDGE Oct 12
SHACKLETON’S ANTARCTIC ADVENTURE Oct 19
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 Oct 5
LA VILLE EST TRANQUILLE Oct 19
WILD ABOUT HARRY Oct 26