Saturday, March 21, 2009

Amélie - my current/ongoing obsession


"Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain" is a film that after reading a brief synopsis, I would have avoided like
the plague. It screams “chick flick” . Jean-Pierre Jeunet, however is no “Beaches” imitator. His previous films such as “La Cité des enfants perdus”, “Delicatessen” and the tragically forgettable “Alien: Resurrection” (you can’t blame him for trying to make some money I suppose) made it impossible not to go out and see it.

The lead (the brilllant Audrey Tautou) has what in any other film would be portrayed as a very sad existence. (Her over protective and cold parents, the death of her mother, friendless childhood and her inability to relate to anyone or even form friendships other than a pleasant rapport with co-workers as a young adult). Under Juenet, this subject matter is transformed in to the sweetest, funniest film about 2 misfits, happlily living in their own solitary worlds of simple pleasures finding each other.

Sweet as Amélie seems, she certainly has a mean streak or at the very least, heightened sense of how social injustices should be punished. Nothing is simple for her. When she sees the boy of her dreams (Mathieu Kassovitz)... she can’t just ask him to take a coffee... she has to create the most elaborate scheme ever devised to meet him and at the same time, keep her distance. Being just as maladjusted as she is, he rises to the occasion and she realizes her goal, despite herself. I n some ways, it’s a throw back to those Astaire/Rogers romances in those absurd, yet somehow relateable stories.It gives hope to every social misfit, that being yourself eventaully can pay off in finding someone compatible and equally odd without compromising your soul, or even having the enter “the real world”, where ever that is.

For a film I would never had seen in normal conditions, I find that I can’t even look at the DVD without putting it in and watching the whole thing over again... and again. Am I so wrong to love this film so much?

His next film, “Un long dimanche de finançialles” with the same actress was equally good in some ways. Much more bitter sweet and with a scene so shocking in violence, yet so perfect to convey exactly how someone can completely lose their mind in the horrors of war, it was almost the “anti-Amélie” as a polio stricken women searches for her love lost in the war and actually succeeds but not in the way she had hoped. It leaves you to decide if she really even found him or just what was left of him.
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