- Reviewed by Florence Scott
- Published on July 4th, 2011 at 6:02p.m.
A lonely child, Amelie Poulain pursues fantasy to fill her sheltered life. As she grows older she longs to leave home, and eventually becomes a waitress in a Parisian cafe. After finding a tin of mementos from a boy’s childhood she endeavors to return them to their owner, and this experience leads her to believe her true vocation is to make others happy. Predictably this also results in a search for her own happiness, and she is helped along by a series of eccentric characters who she meets along the way.
The plot and a multitude of sub-plots tie together to create a satisfyingly happy story. The eponymous heroine is wholly likable - the beautiful Audrey Tatou portrays an innocent, although sometimes devious character it is impossible to dislike. Funny, heart-warming and much loved, Amelie could almost be described as the definition of a ‘feel-good film’.
The response to Amelie upon it’s release in 2001 however was somewhat mixed, with some critics believing it to be almost too good to be true. It was criticised for being unrealistically sweet, and portraying a Paris that didn’t exist. But as far as I can see, from the beginning Amelie never claims to be anything more than fantasy.
Delicately directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the entire ambiance of the film is dominated by a striking red and green colour scheme; it is beautiful and surreal. It is set in the year of the death of Princess Diana, however it lacks the ugliness of modern life, and without the occasional appearance of a video camera or adult video shop one would almost think they were watching a film set in a Paris of 50 or 60 years go. In many ways Amelie's time frame never existed. The witty voice-over provides a selection of facts and figures and summarises each character surrounding their likes and dislikes, presenting life as being incredibly simple.
The beautiful alternative world intricately created for Amelie may be the reason for it’s criticism, but in my opinion it is also the cause of its unavoidable enchantment. This unique interpretation of life is the reason for Amelie’s success; it serves as being an escape from the ugliness of our world. After all, isn’t that the purpose of a good film?