Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "AMELIE"

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Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amélie has reached America, at last!

I have been looking forward to this one for a long time and I was not disappointed in the least. In fact, I was happily and fancifully blown away. This is one charming and wonderful movie that has become an instant and deep favorite for this fella.

For those who haven't heard anything about Amélie - originally known in France by the longer title Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain - the title character (perfectly personified by the stunningly beautiful Audrey Tautou) is a young woman living in Paris who has a romantic and unique way of looking at the world around her. Through a series of circumstances she decides to become a sort of secret Blue Fairy, making people around her happy by fulfilling their fondest wishes. Sometimes they are random strangers, more often they are those she knows or would like to know. It kind of defies description because to say too much in the way of plot specifics would spoil some of the natural charm of this story as it unfolds before you.

To call this movie a "romantic comedy" would unfortunately dredge up memories of the forty-dozen Pretty Woman wannabes we've all had to endure in the past decade or so. Amélie truly has a sense of both Romance and Comedy in purer definitions of those words and never slides toward well-worn genre crud.

It's also a heartfelt love letter to the magic of Paris, just as Steve Martin's L.A. Story is to Los Angeles and Woody Allen's Manhattan is to New York City.

It is all filtered through the brilliant visions and weird-but-wonderful sensibility of director and co-writer Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Those lucky amongst you will know Jeunet from the work he did with Marc Caro: Delicatessen (1991) and The City of Lost Children (1995). Jeunet also had the unenviable task of helming Alien: Resurrection as his only U.S. feature to date. That movie was easily the worst in the series thus far (hampered by really dumb script), but it did have some beautiful images, and the film's failure can't really be attributed to the skill of the direction. In any event Amélie is on the surface perhaps a more mainstream kind of material for Jeunet yet perfectly suited for his visual sense, his comic timing, and his love of offbeat characters. And character actors! Dominique Pinon, who is featured in Jeunet's first three projects, is back again.

Yes, the movie is French, which means most of you will have to read subtitles. But for those who usually don't attend foreign-language films (which is totally and completely your loss, BTW), this one is most definitely worth the effort. But only if you crave a truly wonderful, romantic, weird, and very funny filmgoing experience. This movie is good for the soul, man! Check it out if you get the opportunity at an arthouse near you or DVD in the future.

I'm going back for a second look this week, and likely a third and fourth after that.

"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra

In Soviet America, you sue MPAA!
I can't wait to see it.
Horror's Not Dead
Latest Movie Review(s): Too lazy to keep this up to date. New reviews every week.

I'm going to check this one out tomorrow, probably...The trailer makes it look awesome, I'm very excited.

Wow, it's nice to know someone else on the board cares about movies that aren't made by a big hollywood studio.

I have seen both City of Lost Children and Delicatessen about a thousand times, yet was completely unaware that Jeunet had a new film. Wow! I'm gonna see it as soon as I can. Holden: Did Caro do the art direction for Amelie? He refused the job on Alien because he knew he wouldn't get enough creative freedom.

bigvalbowski's Avatar
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Amelie is a lovely movie.

I brought two buddies of mine to the show who had never seen a foreign film before and were not too excited about going. They were blown away. One part of the beginning of Amelie had the two of them cracking up. So, if you can get to see this, then go to see it. It's a real heart-warmer this one.

My favourite character, besides the wonderful Amelie, was the jealous diner patron who records notes on the behaviour of his girlfriend. Very, very funny.

Let's hope it does as well as Life is Beautiful and Crouching Tiger. It deserves to.
I couldn't believe that she knew my name. Some of my best friends didn't know my name.

That character you're referring to, Joseph, is played by Dominique Pinon, who has been in all four of the features Jeunete has directed. He usually steals just about every scene he's in and doesn't have the kind of face you're likely to forget.

Bigval, if you haven't seen 'em yet, get a hold of Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children ASAP. Not as sweet as Amelie, but amazing movies.

Don't know if Amelie is going to break through to mainstream American audiences, but it has that potential. I was reading an interview where Jeunet said Miramax was so happy with the responses from July test screenings in New Jersey that they will consider any box office take under $25-million a failure. They know this is a special movie and expect U.S. audiences to connect with it. It is already one of the most successful French films ever, breaking many of that country's box office records.

I'm going to see Amelie again tonight (assuming they don't panic and close down the D.C. Metro, which will cause me all kinds of hassles). Ooooh, I'm getting all excited! I love this movie.

Good news and bad news going to see Amélie again tonight. The bad news is, it was sold out. The good news is, it was sold out.

I mean, yes, I'm disappointed I didn't get to see it again today, especially as I was going to introduce my little Sister to it (well, she's twenty-four, but she'll always be little to me). Yet I am kind of excited that it was sold out on a Monday night. That means the word is really getting out about how wonderful Amélie is. Great news, I hope it makes lots and lots of money here in The States.

This theater in downtown Washington D.C. even had it on two screens. Got there a little after 5:00pm and was told both the 6:30 and 7:15 shows were already sold out. They still had some tickets left for the 9:00, but that was going to keep us out too late for a weeknight. We're gonna try again on Wednesday or Thursday...though I may very well go back to Baltimore tomorrow night without her and see it again.

We did stick around, have dinner and go to another theater across town to see The Coen Bros.' The Man Who Wasn't There. It was my second viewing and her first. Enjoyed it all over again, and Joel & Ethan can do no wrong in my book.

But it's not the same kind of warm life-affirming experience as seeing Amélie. We got to see a good movie, just not the one I was all psyched-up for. Next time.

bigvalbowski's Avatar
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I went to see Amelie for the second time tonight. Just thought I'd offer a few extra comments on this film's brilliance.

I think I read that Juliette Binoche had the lead role in this movie but passed on it, well what a stroke of luck. My fondness for Binoche left after the ridiculous Chocolat and I'm now officially in love with Audrey Tautou. She speaks very little in Amelie; she acts with gestures, often with her eyes and those jumping eyebrows of hers. My favourite scene of belonging to Tautou is when she stares at the back of Nico but can't overcome her shyness and talk to him. I think we've all been there. I know I have. She then asks Gina to drop a note into his pocket to give her another chance. The audience tonight laughed here when it cut to Joseph sneering at Gina's flirting but when it cut back to Amelie who was almost crying the audience's laughter changed instantly to a quiet sadness. I love when an audience gets a movie and tonight they did. They reacted to every scene in exactly the right way. I'll never get that sensation on DVD.

I know the images in Amelie are an overly positive depiction of Paris but aren't they wonderful? It looked like such a beautiful place to live and a perfect setting for the beautiful characters on display.

Speaking of France. Isn't their sexual preoccupation fascinatingly healthy? We have scenes of a naked pregnant woman followed by the child's birth. We have a scene of multiple orgasms. There is a comical sex scene that almost wrecks a coffee shop. And two or three scenes are set in a porno shop. This film received a U certificate in France; that means a 4 year old could go without his parents if he had the money. In the USA, this film is restricted to 17 and over. The US and the UK (over 15s) are so repressed sexually. I'd love to know which countries have a higher sexual perversion rate. My guess is us. Sex is so innocent, so wonderful in Amelie - that's the way it should be. In the US and the UK, sex is too often depicted as dirty and frightening. This needs to change.

Aren't the actor's faces in Amelie a joy? Each one so ridiculously different from the others. Tautou is gorgeous but refreshingly different. Her love interest is no Brad Pitt but he's handsome in a natural fashion. The supporting cast, especially Joseph, Collignon (is a moron ), Lucien and Dufayel have wonderfully structured faces.

Final Thoughts. I hope that Amelie makes a monster amount of cash in America and I hope it cleans up at the Academy Awards. If Tautou doesn't win, it will only because she is as shy in real life as her character is, and refuses to do interviews. I hope that Mister Pinon gets a nomination as well; I crack up just thinking about him. Its musical score was wonderful too; I stayed for the entire credits.

Please, everybody, if you have to travel 100 miles - go see Amelie.

I noticed today that in my area Amelie is taking a baby-step toward the mainstream and higher boxoffice potential. Starting Friday it is opening on at least one screen in a Baltimore multiplex, The General Cinema 17 at Owings Mills.

That's good. As of right now I believe it's only playing at one theater in downtown Bal'mer and one in downtown D.C. Putting it in the suburban chains outside the Beltways means it can reach a wider, more diverse audience.

BTW, even though Amelie has only been on a handful of screens in America thus far (it jumped up to 91 last weekend - compared to 3,267 for Monsters Inc.), it has already brought in over $3.5-million.

I too hope it's a hit, and no matter what pans out for the rest of the year's releases, I'll be pulling for the cast and crew of Amelie to get some major awards recognition. They sure deserve it....though as Will Munny (Eastwood) told Little Bill Daggett (Hackman) in the magnificent Oscar-winning Unforgiven, "Deserve's got nuthin' to do with it." Sadly, when it comes to the A.M.P.A.S., that is so often true.

Female assassin extraordinaire.
i hope this comes to a local big screen and stays so i can actually see it how it is supposed to be seen rather than rent it two months from now - IF the video stores get it.

the plot sounds a lot like Celestial Clockwork. Except fate isn't happening to the main character, she's applying it.

also sounds more poignant, along with the carefree aspect.

i grew up watching French film and City of LC was requisite material and rather disturbing. but amazing, yes. i've never seen any other of his films, and didn't know Pinon was in all of them. sure does have a unique face!

sexual fascination - yes I think it's healthy and yes I agree, the US and UK are uptight. sex is a part of life and while the US and UK recognize that the don't recognize it as a CLEAN and HEALTHY and NORMAL part of life. they act like its dirty or perverted to be frank, or at the very least, "shocking" and trendily outrageous (ie, Sex in the City). it has not yet become a comfortable norm. like going to the movies.

I saw this flick on Monday when I had school off. Despite the fact that people in DC are complete idiots and wont let me in the theatre to see a rated R flick it was a good trip as usual. (Some of you might know who I am from the name) The only way to describe this movie is "cute" I had the biggest smile on my face the entire time. Some of the visuals in the movie made rack my brain in awww. It was so great. It was the perfect mixture of a love story and comedy. At some moments in the film when she wouldn't go after "the love of her life" I just wanted to stand up and scream "WHY?" God i was so racked after that flick.

I watched this tonight with my aunt, it's absolutely lovely! I can't wait to see it again. My favorite shot is at the end, when he falls asleep on her chest and she strokes his hair. It's wonderful.

I think the saddest part about watching it is knowing that it woulnd't or couldn't be made in America...It's like a reminder of how retarded our studio system is and how dumb the majority of American audiences are. God, I hope this gets into the multiplex and outgrosses Crouching Tiger. Maybe there'll be hope for Americans.

Saw Amelie again on Saturday, and even though it moved into six other D.C. area theaters outside the Beltway this weekend (four in VA, two in MD), every show during the day was still selling out at this theater. And they even have it on THREE screens now.

The Potter numbers are going to be historic, but I'm actually more curious to see how Amelie does this weekend. It'll be great if it picks up another couple million, building more steam and word of mouth as it goes.

I know I'm going to see it again, at least once more. At least.

Originally posted by Holden Pike
Saw Amelie again on Saturday, and even though it moved into six other D.C. area theaters outside the Beltway this weekend (four in VA, two in MD), every show during the day was still selling out at this theater. And they evern have it on THREE screens now.
Did you go to Dupont Circle? I know they've got it on three screens.

Yeah, we all know Harry Potter is going to make all sorts of money, I hope The Man Who Wasn't There and Amelie get into some big multiplexes and becomes sort of the alternative to Harry Potter and LOTR.

I just saw Amelie.
It was the most beautiful movie I have ever seen.
I loved Jeunet's other movies, but this is unmatched.
I know longer have the desire to make movies, because, well...
It's been made.
Please, please, please see this movie, each and every one of you.

My best friend refuses to see it cuz the only place its showing is this new theatre and she is boycotting it because she's all environmentalist. This movie is for her and about her and I CANNOT get her to see it. It will make me feel better if everyone else takes the opportunity that they have to see this movie, twice if you can. You will want to. I cannot even put this movie into words, but it is phenomenal. It is among the three best, if not THE best, film I have ever seen.

Only one detail of the whole movie bothered me and it would be treason to voice it.

It's not treasonous, what detail are you referring to? You got me curious.

Use a [ SPOILER ] alert and let's discuss, shall we? I'd love to talk about Amelie as something other than just wonderfully wonderful (which it is). Let's get into some specifics, Sultan.

Ok, Holden, here's what I didn't like. It's not really a spoiler cause it has nothing to do with the story. How many times can Jeunet use that same dollying in shot? I mean, her father is introduced. Cool shot. Dolly in, nicely filmed. Her mother is introduced. Same thing. Looks nice, works to this point. Then every time something surprising or big happens, the same shot and effect is used. It bugged me after a while. Also, I didn't like when


she melted after Nino left the diner. Sure, we all know the feeling and its portrayed masterfully, as is every other emotion, but I think it could have been expressed more modestly and effectively it it was acted rather than computer generated. Most of the special effects I liked, the animals in her bedroom, etc. But I didn't care for thaty one.

I only think its fair to say what I loved about this movie, now.
Its beautiful; beautiful beautiful in every way. Every time she picked up a stone I smiled, hugely so. The goldfish scene almost made me cry. The scene of "That Tragic Day" winning all the marbels made me laugh my *** off. The scene in which Nino chased the man in red shoes was shot perfectly. The Glass Man and Amelie were acted so beautifully. The gnome made me so happy in a "that's so funny and warm I'm giggling" sort of way.
I know an Amelie and I suspect there's quite a few out there. People who just want to help everyone else, because they love people. These people have been given their credit now. And the best part about this film was Jean-Pierre Jeunet's decision to create it. This cannot be 5% of what I loved about thsi film, but it's a start. That specific enough Holden?

Also, it went out of focus for a while so I got my money back.