Friday, August 12, 2005

Ten Reasons to See Amelie

★ ★ ★ ★ It isn’t often that a movie has so much to offer, so many facets to recommend itself. Amelie is a truly delightful French film with everything going for it. If you haven’t seen it, here are ten reasons to stop by Blockbuster tonight and pick it up:

1. Audrey Tautou’s remarkably enchanting and multi-dimensional performance in this unique and difficult title role. Her alluring and mysterious je ne sais quoi makes a second viewing even better than the first.

2. Two hours of French, with subtitles. Even if you don’t speak a lick, it’s such a graceful and elegant language to listen to. (It would not be nearly as alluring in, say, Finnish, or Yugoslavian.)

3. Absolutely gorgeous, even stunning color palettes—full-bodied reds and greens deliciously contrasted by Tautou’s pale skin and jet-black hair. This is simply an exquisite film to watch.

4. An inspiring tale of kind-hearted virtue expressed in the most inventive and creative ways. Its feel-good charm is buoyed by Amelie’s untainted compassion, which never becomes sappy or heavy-handed.

5. Warm, light-hearted and sometimes laugh-out-loud humor. Jeunet even manages to make the tragedies funny, such as the curious death of Amelie’s mother, who is crushed by a woman’s suicidal fall. (And while on the subject, the suicidal goldfish is also hilarious.)

6. Writer-Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s imaginative script and extraordinarily creative direction. Jeunet dares to take risks, and allows Amelie’s penchant for daydreaming to give license to all sorts of fun and inventive symbols and plot devices, which fortunately work very well within the movie.

7. Cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel’s fascinating camera work, with shots that scan, pan and hover in wide, adventurous arcs. One shot of Amelie skipping rocks from a bridge is near genius.

8. Tautou’s waif-like and memorably expressive face; portraying wonder, enlightenment, discovery, surprise, sadness, disappointment, wisdom and humor while barely saying a word.

9. A delightful love story, as Amelie realizes the need to find her own joy and companionship, and does so in the unlikeliest of places. It may be the most unusual courtship in cinema history!

10. One of the gentlest yet most romantic kissing scenes in my experience—all with lips barely parted!

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