Cherchez la femme

Amélie

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

(Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Lorella Cravotta)

R

 

In what world does a goldfish attempt suicide? In what world does a camera cause traffic accidents? And in what world does a garden gnome circumvent the globe? ÖAmélie’s!

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s fantastic vision of Paris is home to Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou), a radiant, day-dreaming femme-enfante who, through her intrepid imagination and incessant intrigue with life, embarks on an altruistic crusade. The film Amélie paints the haphazard world Amélie has spun. Blending a karmic cataclysm of plot twists with the wide-eyed entrancement of its title character, Amélie bestows upon the audience a storybook feel, thanks in large part to a pleasant narrator. This is as cinematically whimsical as it comes, conjuring up allegories to the un-reality of Shakespeare. In fact, Amélie’s presence echoes the cunning playfulness of A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s Puck.

Amélie’s light-hearted scheming brings elation (or ill-fortune) of varying degrees to all she meets, from the local produce vendor to the reclusive artist, and even to her own widowed father. It’s her self-devised goal to bring hopeless romanticism to the masses. To oust skepticism and create an utopist community based on the joie de vivre. It’s a grandiose task of which Amélie undertakes, but the lengths at which she goes never seem to brim with phoniness or dishonestly. Cynics will reference the film’s implausibility and perhaps the film as a whole is too dependent upon its star, yet, no such fault could mar this film’s collective impact. Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s vivacious and copiously edited direction invades the psyche of Amélie.

For those who can relinquish their shield and allow themselves to drift whole-heartedly into and beyond the screen, Amélie undoubtedly possesses the bemused folly, the poignant humanity, theÖje ne sais quoi to propel this film into the premiere crop of this year.

-Bridget Brown and Sean McGrath

 

Amélie opens today at the Uptown Theater.