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flick pick | Amelie [Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain] 2001
Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Written by: Guillaume Laurant, Jean-Pierre Jeunet [story]
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz
Language: French [with English subtitles]
Look for it at the video store under:
foreign [France]
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:
artsy-fartsy, fantastical, lovey, whimsical
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5

Plot synopsis Growing up in Paris as the only child of a nerve-wracked mother and an emotionally distant father, Amélie Poulain learned from an early age to retreat into the fabulous world of her imagination to seek the fun and company she lacked in real life. At 23, living on her own and spending her days working as a waitress at a nearby café/bar, Amélie continues to hide from the loneliness of reality by making up amazing stories about the people around her. Then one day, Amélie makes a tiny discovery that changes the course of her life. When a tile at the base of a wall in her apartment is inadvertently knocked loose one evening, Amélie stumbles across a small hollow, a secret hiding spot in which an earlier tenant, a small boy, has stashed a box of his greatest treasures: a clipping of a cyclist, some figurines, a stack of photographs. Amélie decides to track down the box’s now grown-up owner and bring him this reminder of his childhood. The man is so touched that he immediately decides to make some changes to make his own life happier, and Amélie, thrilled that her small act of kindness has made such a difference in the life of this stranger, vows to continue her do-good work. She paints a word picture for a blind man she encounters crossing a street, schemes to convince her house-bound widower father to get out and see the world, finds love for her lonely, hypochondriac co-worker. But when in the course of her exploits around Paris, she falls in love with Nino, fellow daydreamer and obsessive collector of other people’s discarded photobooth pictures, Amélie, who has such a talent for making others happy, suddenly finds herself at a loss as to how to make happiness happen in her own life.

Review It’s hard to make an unabashedly happy movie that doesn’t ooze cheese as well. But Amélie is all goodness and light, cheer and optimism, a 100% feel-good movie that fills you with joy and makes you believe in love without once falling into the usual corny territory occupied by other romantic comedies. This is one love story that doesn’t fake it: the entire movie is suffused with that gorgeous glow that you get when you know you’re in love. It’s not about love so much as it is love, a great big giant valentine to human quirks, the interconnectedness of individual lives, the unpredictability of falling in love, and the romance of Paris itself. Much of the magic comes from Amélie’s enchantingly adorable star, Audrey Tautou, who with her big doe eyes and mischievous coy smile, is the living embodiment of charm and grace and vivaciousness—you can’t imagine not falling head over heels for her: she’s pretty much the perfect girl. But the secondary characters are just as lovable – from Amélie’s father, obsessed with creating a tacky shrine to his dead wife, to her painter neighbor, the fragile Glass Man, to Lucien, the not-so-bright grocer’s clerk who finds such beauty in the vegetables he sells, to Amélie’s love interest Nino, whose day-job at a porno shop seems at odds with his sweet and innocent nature. Still, it’s the unmistakably distinctive painterly touch of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who along with Marc Caro, created two of the most beautifully weird films of the 90s, Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children, that makes Amélie so one-of-a-kind special. With its super-saturated red-green-yellow palette punctuated by occasional brilliant blues, and its snappy, jazzy editing, this gorgeous modern fairytale is one luscious concoction of cinematic eye candy that’s impossible to resist.—reviewed by Y. Sun

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