Sunday Classics (For a Monday): Amelie

I don’t know anyone personally that doesn’t like the movie, Amelie. Saying so, I know, is a big neon invitation for everyone to chime in and say how much they hate its whimsy and sticky-sweetness, but I’m going to say it anyway. Because I think that liking Amelie says a lot about the person who likes it; that they are romantic and willing to suspend disbelief and cynicism for two hours of richness, love, and exuberance.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you are an assh*le if you don’t like Amelie; some people have called it racist for idealizing Paris and leaving out ethnic minorities. Others have just found it too saccharine and boring.

Personally, I think it does a movie a disservice to take it too literally. Almost every film ever made is idealized, and it’s that idealized, dreamlike quality that makes Amelie so beautiful and singular.

If you haven’t seen it, Amelie is a French film that came out in 2001 and was directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who also did Delicatessen, A Very Long Engagement, and City of Lost Children. Amelie (the beautiful Audrey Tautou) is a waitress in Montmartre who does a good deed and feels so good about it that she starts doing good deeds all over Paris. Along the way, she meets a man named Nino and falls in love.

The premise is simple enough, but the execution is exquisite. If anything, Jeunet seems to have made Amelie as a love letter to Paris. The city is beautifully rendered in bold greens and reds that seem to glow right out of the screen. The colors are heightened, the characters are heightened and Yann Tierson’s music is absolutely heightened; it’s pure Paris without being ironic, pretentious or cheesy.

You really have to see the film to understand why it’s so visually appealing.

This is my favorite scene in the movie and I wish it was better quality, but it still gives me goosebumps. Amelie and Nino’s love story is so original, so brilliantly handled because the characters are so well drawn and intricate. Nino is shown through the things he collects, and the fact that he notices things that no one else would ever notice. Amelie, too, is intrigued by the minutiae and beauty of people; you can tell by the precise way she describes them. And as such, the two are perfect for each other and when they finally get together its as satisfying as any love story I’ve ever seen on film.

[Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org]

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