Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain

January 27, 2010
By Rachel Winner BRONZE, Eufaula, Oklahoma
Rachel Winner BRONZE, Eufaula, Oklahoma
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Fall For “Amélie”

Swelling with stunning images and sublime dialogue, "Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain" is a tender French film starring Audrey Tatou as the doe-eyed Amélie Poulain, a character cursed with an intense sensitivity and almost crippling shyness. Amélie’s story is established in a curious, light-hearted way, as are the stories of all other characters within the movie. She is the only daughter of an anti-social but intelligent couple, and is diagnosed early in her life with a heart defect. This leads her to grow into isolation, and even when she is working as a waitress in Paris, she is a quiet young woman who prefers
to observe others rather than join them. The quirks of seemingly random characters are revealed throughout the unfolding of Amélie’s tale, and we soon learn that the people she comes into contact with are as relatable as she is, not despite of their eccentricities, but because of them. The narrator tells us that one woman Amélie knows "Likes the sound of the cat's bowl on the tiles," and he goes on to add that "The cat likes overhearing children's stories."

The humor and sweetness of the film is contrasted with certain gritty elements, especially the sex shop that Amélie's love interest works at. There are the occasional raunchy moments within the movie used for comic effect, their blatant outlandishness emphasized by the innocent idealist perspective Amélie constantly keeps. In fact, the romance of Amélie is rather opposite of most modern films. With its share of obscene jokes, the movie's most intimate scenes are not, in fact, sex scenes, yet are worthy of holding one's breath.

Moved by a single coincidence (a small mystery that Amélie chooses to unravel) the film’s heroine finds that a simple gesture of anonymous kindness on her part inspires to perform more secret, charitable deeds. Her connections with others soon create a great self-illumination, but Miss Poulain doesn’t like all that she sees. Amélie’s passion for dreaming and fixation with strangers leaves her lonely and desperately in love with a man who does not even know who she truly is. Mathieu Kassovitz plays Nino Quincampoix, a man who is as extraordinary as Amélie. Equally delicate as she is benevolent, Amélie is a character of deeply rooted self-conflict, and her longing for requited love soon becomes the audience’s longing too.

Eclectic as the film itself, the music of Yann Tiersen is smooth; a lovely accompaniment for this whimsical story, like a charming antiquated music box. The colors of the film seem to match that of an old photograph, implying that Amélie is living in a past, more perfect Paris, France. Imaginative animation allows Amélie to hold conversations with the paintings on her walls, and Nino to speak to photographs he collects. Flawless editing turns an image of a roaring waterfall to a still pond, which Amélie skips stones over when deep in thought. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet takes great care to present us with Amélie’s moving ventures, in “Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain” or “The fabulous destiny of Amélie Poulain.” For anyone who does not mind subtitles or the occasional garish sex joke, “Amélie” is a stirring movie about a child-like search for kindness, justice, and true love, packed full of sweet melt-in-your-mouth lines that will have your heart glowing.

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