Thursday, July 14, 2016

Best of the 2000s: Amelie

5 Stars

I so loved Amelie - both the film and the central character it’s named for.

Amelie tells the story of Amelie Poulain (Audrey Tatou), a shy and mischievous waitress working in a restaurant frequented by a group of eccentric customers. Amelie also has a highly active imagination that almost doubles as an ability to see and understand others impressionistically. When she finds a box containing the toys and mementos of her apartment's previous tenant, she begins to use that imagination, and her tendency toward mischievousness, to intervene surreptitiously in the lives of the people around her.

Amelie, though, does not succeed because of its plot. It succeeds because of a beautiful fusion of character and tone. Amelie is a singular creation, an eccentric girl, fully formed, self-possessed, romantic, deeply flawed, and completely absorbing. As embodied by Ms. Tatou, she looks at the camera, not because she is aware of the audience, but because she treats the camera as her beloved imaginary friend and co-conspirator (in this way, Amelie may have presaged both Pushing Daisies and House of Cards). She invites us to see her world the way that she does, and in the process, gets us to re-imagine our own lives. Are we as strange and abnormal as the oddballs who frequent her restaurant? If we are, are we as wonderful as they? How would Amelie Poulain see us?

Nevertheless, Amelie is never weighted down by its circumspection. Instead, the film mimics the breezy optimism and impishness of its heroine. Amelie finds the magic in the ordinary, the fun in the extraordinary, the adventure in the peculiar, and the romance in the most unlikely. Amelie loves simple pleasures, and Amelie is certainly one of them.

I often say that we have to leave just a little room in the world for magic. If we don’t, where’s the fun? Amelie embraces a very similar worldview, daring us to see the world better through our imaginations. It is done beautifully, artistically, and so thoroughly life affirmingly that I can easily say that Amelie is exactly the kind of movie I was looking for when I began this project last year – a film that can be enjoyed over and over, and a classic that makes us feel good.

Amelie finds itself on this list because 6 of the 37 critics agreed with me and listed it among the best films of the 2000s. I’m surprised the number was so small. Nevertheless, it shares that honor with the next film on my list, Wall-E.

No comments:

Post a Comment