DVD Review: Amélie.

Following up Watchmen with Amélie is like hanging out with Mother Teresa after reading Mein Kampf. Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) is a shy, introverted French girl. But after she accidentally finds a rusty old box filled with knickknacks, she goes on a mission to get it back to the boy that used to live in her apartment. But this spirals her into a new life of controlled extroversion, helping people out from the shadows. But then she starts to fall in love with one of the guys she wants to help, a young photo collector named Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz).

This is an incredibly difficult review to write, mostly because I can’t think of much negative to say. It does everything that might annoy your average movie-goer. It spends a good chunk of the beginning introducing every miniscule thing (likes/dislikes) about every character. It has voice-over narration that spoon-feeds you information. It has moments of sped-up, frantic footage for almost no reason. It breaks the fourth wall. It has subtitles.

But I’m not your average movie-goer. And even if I were, I think I’d still love this movie. Even though it does all of those things, it somehow does them all right (well, there’s really no right or wrong way to have subtitles—for the most part—but I like foreign films, so those didn’t bother me anyway). The voice-over narration makes the characters quirky and fun, as well as just makes the film itself even more entertaining in its randomness. Even in the first ten minutes, with almost no real speaking outside of the voice-over, I was already entranced by everything that was going on, already emotionally involved. When young Amélie’s fish is dumped into the river and stares up at her, I felt sad for them both (Amélie and the fish).

The acting was great, of course. And Audrey Tautou is gorgeous. One thing I did want to bring up about the actors was Jamel Debbouze as Lucien, the young man at the grocers who gets made fun of all the time. It took me about half the movie to realize he played the lead male character in Angel-A, another great and beautiful French film about celebrating life and love. The guy can really act.

If there were anything negative to say, it would be that the relationship between two of the characters is never resolved. They fight because of jealousy brought about by a misunderstood moment, but the movie never goes back to them. I don’t think it spoils the overall film, though.

The cinematography was beautifully done, as well. The color arrangements were eye-catching. If anything, the film is just great to watch with or without sound (or subtitles). And one thing that I felt about this film that I rarely feel about other films is that this movie is a work of art, but without being pompous. Most art films try way too hard and oftentimes fall short under the weight of their self-indulgence. But not this one. It’s fun, quirky, and beautifully shot. And that’s about all I can say about Amélie.

Royale With Cheese

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