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Movie Review: Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amelie (2001)


I watched Amelie over the course of 4 days. It's pretty pathetic when your life is so busy that it takes you 4 days to watch a movie, but I think Amelie might need extended viewing. The material is so rich that it takes awhile to process. Plus, the narrator names off facts as quick as bullets. I had to play several scenes over again to see how all the people tied together.

Amelie is a porcelain doll of a young woman. She was how I imagined Snow White would look minus the rosy cheeks: dark brown hair, gooey chocolate-colored eyes, perfect skin, and red lips. Amelie is painfully shy. She struggles with revealing her deepest needs. She longs to be close to someone and have a friend to talk to, but instead she watches from her window with binoculars. She observes those around her and thinks she might know what might make them happy. She studies them, takes notes, and executes a plan. If special ops needed a happiness agent, Amelie would be their woman.

When she was a girl, she had two type-A parents. Her father would never touch her, except when he gave her a medical exam. Her mother's greatest joy was cleaning her purse out. Amelie's only friend was a goldfish with suicidal tendencies.

Now, as a grown woman, she works in a cafe. She watches a male painter in his flat below. He never leaves his apartment because of frail limbs. Amelie's father is now widowed and never leaves his home, either. She is surrounded by unhappy people and Amelie is drowning in their discontent.

One day, her life changes when she finds a small music box containing a little boy's treasures. She makes a decision. She will hunt down the box's owner. If it makes him happy, she will spend her days doing secret good deeds for others, finding happiness in their fortune. She becomes the good fairy, hiding in the shadows as others dance for joy at a new lover, a lost loved one found, and a look at the world outside.

The movie is done in French with English subtitles. It was refreshing to watch this story about someone who simply longs to bring good to the world. Whenever one of her "victims" brims with happiness, Amelie's shy smile brightens up her face. The cinematography was well done with bright colors. You want to enter this world of fruit stands, fairs, and amusement parks. You want to jump on Amelie's shoulder and ride around with her on one of her adventures. This was a must-see movie for cinema lovers. When it ended, and Amelie rode off with someone that made her happy, the music soaring in the background, I smiled and sighed with wonder.

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