There are many things that a person can take from this film other than the inspiration for a Travelocity commercial. From the very first shot of the film it’s clear that it’s not going to be just another film. Often labeled as artsy-fartsy, or pretentious, Amelie is one of the most original movies, especially considering that at it’s core it’s just a simple love story. Love stories are the oldest, and at this point maybe one of the most unwelcome, concepts in film. Amelie is different, however, by adding such an impressive amount of depth, and wit to it, you’ll forget that what the movie is really about; you won’t care either, you’ll just be enjoying it.
Something I wanted to take a moment to talk about, though, is the opening credits. Showing Amelie as a little girl taking part in her lonely activities, with a very bitter-sweet song playing in the background, is going to be a perfect shining example of some points I’ll be making later about the characters, and how easily convincing they are. It just doesn’t take much to get to know these people. Some movies, and books for that matter, give us an entire life story, filled with tragedy and all the thrills and bells and whistles, and you never really know the person. It’s a real shame when that happens, too. If you’re anything like me, after the opening credit sequence, you’ll find yourself wondering what they would show you doing as a child had it been you in this movie. Mine probably wouldn’t have been so cute as young Amelie’s performance, but me and my friend would probably get a kick out of it.
In a nutshell, Amelie is about a girl living for the simple pleasures in life, and after discovering a 50 year old box in her apartment, decided to help people around her. By doing so, she falls in love with a man in a train station. As I’ve said, but can’t stress enough, the very first shot is enough to let you know it’s going to be special. A quickly spoken narration gives you the sort of details rarely told in stories, but it’s the kinds of details that you remember about people. Introducing the cast, and giving a brief incite as to their likes and dislikes, you get a sense about what these people are like without even knowing them. But you do, because we all know somebody that doesn’t like wrinkly fingers after a bath, doesn’t like it when swimming trucks stick to your thighs, enjoys noticing minute background details in movies, and loves to skip stones. Bits of information like this are told right away, for almost every character, including a cat, and that’s it. The rest of the movie let’s us see these characters acting in a manner that looks so natural, it’s hard to see them out of the movie. Everything they do compliments the idea you’ll initially have, really showing off Jean-Pierre Jaunut’s gift for writing.
Other than the wonderful set of characters the movie has (and it does have many, even the smallest part is memorable), what else makes this movie so great? Well, virtually everything. Most notably the coloration. Watching any trailer for the film, and looking at any screen capture will tell you they’ve gone back and edited all the colors in the film, and while I would usually frown at that, this movie does it perfectly. The entire movie is shot with green and red tones, but every so often there will be something blue set out somewhere, creating the most unnatural setting, but somehow very believable. The crew of the movie, when shooting on location, cleaned up the area first, getting rid of trash and such, and because of this, and the color altering, Paris is presented in a very unrealistic manner. It’s shown in a way I’m not even sure how to describe. It’s not the metropolis that it really is, but rather, a living painting. Every shot of the movie is gorgeous, and makes me envy the French for having such a beautiful city. But then I have to remind myself, Paris doesn’t really look like that, it’s all a fantasy. Forgetting that it’s not realistic when it’s so obvious is what makes good story telling. Allowing yourself to just ignore the fallacies, and accept how great it is.
Now, even if the film hadn’t been shot like that, with the attempts to make Paris look clean and painted by artists, it would still be great to see. All the cinematography, outside the impossibly-to-make-interesting shots (inside of cramped apartments, inside a photo booth, so on so forth), are obviously well thought out. Long shots of Paris streets, complicated moving camera takes, massive areas in frame, it’s all thought out before hand, tested, and done with care. Even the little things within the shots are worth mentioning. The apartments you’ll see, and the locations, all compliment the character in focus. Jaunut has stated in interviews he hand picked everything you see in the movie, and while that itself isn’t anything to toss an award at, his uncanny ability to make it work is.
The movie, so far, is beautifully shot and colored, entertaining and interesting, cute and bitter-sweet, and now we can add funny and charming. There aren’t any jokes in the movie, and there aren’t really any lines that were written to make people laugh. If you don’t laugh, the line isn’t useless. It’s just funny to some people. Think of it like this: you can’t see Dumb and Dumber, not find it funny, and enjoy it. You can here But, along with many others, I found it hilarious. I don’t like to give away too many details about the movie due to spoiler fanatics, but I will say this movie has what has got to be the funniest sex scene I’ve ever seen in a movie…which happens in a public place, no less.
The only bad thing I can say about the film is that it’s French. I say that, not because I dislike the French, but because so many people are so reluctant to watch foreign films, even more so without the crutch of dub work, and even more so if it’s French. Pushed aside as a “French film”, many people will probably skip the movie, but then again, I can’t imagine those kinds of people enjoying and appreciating the movie anyway. It seems that the people that like this movie, don’t just like it, they love it. I love Amelie, not just the movie, but the character. Remember group of people that call her their dream girl I mentioned? Well, I’m the president of the club. The movie opens well, and it ends on the perfect note, and everything in between is just as it should be. This movie is heart-warming, and immensely enjoyable, and I choose my word carefully. The truth is, everything I say about this movie in short are the same kinds of reviews written for real family friendly, heart-warming, Hollywood garbage, and it saddens me. But, keep in mind that this movie is the exception to almost everything. Don’t like love stories? Don’t like foreign films? Don’t like the French? This movie is the exception, and I can say with a respectable level of certainly that it will leave you wanting more. This is just the kind of movie that can cheer you up, pass the time, or make you realize just how much you wish you’d written it first.