This week's information is slightly
different to normal as Patrick who normally does the review and his
other reporters who vote where having photo shoots, it was down to me Miranda Schunke
to make sure our film buffs where not let down. I hope you like it!
Say what you like about the French - condemn their driving, praise their
wine, worry about their fixation with Johnny Holliday - but you can't deny
that they make some of the best films in the world. There's something inherently stylish and inventive about Continental film-making that shows up
most British movies as thoroughly lumpen and depressing.
It might be significant that we use the phrase 'joie de vivre' without bothering to translate it - the whole concept of 'joy of life' seems a bit
lost on a dull, wet Monday morning in Southport. But Amelie is the cure for
all the problems associated with living this side of the English Channel.
The eponymous heroine shares an isolated childhood with her repressed father
and an overactive imagination. Moving to Monometer as a young woman she takes a job as a waitress and lives quite happily taking pleasure from the
simple things in life such as cracking the top of a creme brulee and skimming stones across the canal.
The death of Princess Diana and an unexpected discovery in her bathroom prompt Amelie to embark on a mission to change the lives of those around
her. She constructs elaborate schemes to help her landlady, her colleagues
and the other residents in her apartment block find love and happiness. She
even develops a vigilante streak as she plays tricks on the local
greengrocer who picks on his assistant.
Much like Jane Austen's Emma, however, Amelie excels at sorting out other people's affairs but stumbles when it comes to her own. She meets a kindred
spirit, Nino, in the station as he collects discarded passport photos for his collection.
Recognizing him as one of life's dreamers, Amelie is determined to find him and begins an ingenious but tentative city-wide hunt.
Audrey Tatou plays Amelie as naive but knowing - a wide-eyed ingénue with
cunning but no artifice. Similarly, Mathieu Kassovitz's Nino is innocent but no fool. And while
this couple become the focus for the film it's impossible not to become hopelessly engrossed in the various subplots as
Amelie puts the world to rights.
The only victim in this film is the bullying greengrocer but he suffers nothing more than some disconcerting domestic accidents. Advance publicity
for Amelie - which has caused a sensation in France - has been billing it as
the ultimate feel good movie but, while this is true, it implies that it descends into mawkish
sentimentalizing. Which it doesn't.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet (best known for his collaborations on the twisted but brilliant Delicatessen and The City Of Lost Children with Marc Caro) slips
in a bit of black humor for good measure (Amelie's mother is killed when a
suicidal Canadian tourist lands on her outside Notre Dame cathedral). And
the whole film is so magical that it could never succumb to anything so
humdrum as schmaltz.
Special effects, ingenious sound editing and wonderfully lush cinematography
make Amelie an absolute joy to watch. Whether it's grainy footage of Amelie's vision of Nino being abducted by the Mujahaddin or a vibrant
cityscape, every scene is beautifully shot and wonderfully affecting - whether it's making you laugh, nod sagely or just get that warm glow that
ReadyBrek promises but never delivers.
This is a fairytale for grown-ups who don't want to be grown-ups but don't
like fairytales. Confused? You won't be. Amelie might even make you want
to hug someone or, at the very least, give them a good solid pat on the back
and wish them all the best. Just brilliant.
Starring Audrey Tatou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Serge Merlin, Rufus,