Film Reviews Cat

Amélie (2001)


The movie “Amélie” is mainly driven by all the different characters, and focuses on a young woman named Amelie and her goal to fix the problems of the people around her. There is no particular grand goal that the protagonist tries to accomplish. It could be said that this is more a narration of Amelie’s life and the idea of negative, and positive karma. 

Where to start? Well let’s start at the point where Amelie was born. The amount of details in this opening scene already communicated to me that this movie would be hyper detailed. And this was surely the case. There were plenty of scenes which could be described as awkward/cringe scenes. There is nothing wrong with awkwardness in a vast number of scenes, but at times i found it bordering… vulgarity. From the way her mother died all the way to Amelie’s needs to interfere in people’s personal lives. The details about how she counts (from a rooftop) how many people in Paris are having sex that night is just one example. Yes, we can say that this is part of character development, but a lot of people won’t find it attractive to watch a movie about such a person IF there is no real story behind it. It is this latter point that is the main issue of this film. However, it would also have helped if the romantic plot would have started within thirty minutes of this two hour movie instead of having to wait ninety minutes for this to happen. Additionally, too much narration in the beginning (first act) also killed this film in my opinion. Extensive narration is great for a book, not a film.

So what is my main issue with the plot? Well, to start off I can say that there was not much of a real story. In the first thirty minutes it becomes clear that she starts to help others for reasons that are not explained in this film. Is it because she lacks a clear goal… maybe. Is it because she grew up in a neurotic environment… maybe. We simply don’t know her motivations. Her first mission to find and help a certain stranger is very cute, and the second one is very noble and caring. But it becomes intrusive as the movie progresses. As an audience you will either love it or hate it. I would find myself asking the following question; What gives you, Amelie, the right to interfere with such delicate situations, memories, and actions? In my opinion she crossed the border after the second act of ‘kindness’. Maybe this is a cultural misunderstanding, or simply a difference of privacy, but I perceived many of her actions as creepy. 

We can say that the story is about random acts of kindness that somehow, after ninety minutes, turns into a romance story. Yes, it feels almost like a plot twist in the sense of; hey the introverted young woman is actually very extraverted when she wants to be. She becomes like Zorro at a certain time only to retreat again and ‘return’ to her old self. This makes it feel bipolar at times. Maybe this was the goal of the writer? Perhaps… But it is not really interesting to watch such a random, and insignificant story if it were not for, and here it comes… THE amazing cinematography.     

The cinematography really made this movie watchable. The use of light, colors, setting, and set design are astonishing. Forget about the non-story, and focus on the use of the color green, and its significance. Therefore I would argue that this surrealistic film is meant to be a visual spectacle, and is visually driven instead of story driven. The story doesn’t matter as much when you focus on the cinematography. One could say that it’s an Art film disguised as a mainstream movie. However, that leaves us with one important question. If this is indeed the case then why are so many people, including IMDB, giving this film such a positive review? I think that many people are impressed by the French setting, and love the uniqueness of Amelie. It might come down to the question of what we are looking for in a film. Some people might be extremely satisfied when they see a ‘alternative’/non-mainstream character as a protagonist. However, for me a film always needs a good story, and a narrated film about the banalities of life is not that. A book format would be much better for such a setup. We can argue what a story needs to contain in order for it to ‘work’ as a film, but that is not the point of this review.

Would I suggest this movie to anyone? Yes, if you are interested in cinematography then “Amélie” is a must see. Additionally, if you are really into ‘alternative’ characters then this is a movie for you. However, this is not a movie for anyone that is looking for a good plot, and an interesting story. As of the time of this review (2021) it received an average of 8.3/10 on IMDB. I am not saying that this movie is overrated, but would rather argue that the variables on which people grade movies is inconsistent. Story, and plot are variables that are part of my overall evaluation, and as long as you include these variables into the mix then it is very difficult to give this film anything higher than a 7/10. You might give this movie a 10/10 because you think it is perfect for you, but that doesn’t make it a perfect film from an objective, or semi-objective perspective. Moreover, the official genre of this film; “Comedy, Romance” is in my opinion not the correct classification. I would argue something along the lines of; surrealism, slice of life. To conclude I would like to say that I understand why this film was such a hype in the early 2000’s, but that this is not relevant anymore because of the many alternatives out there today. 

Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Writing: Guillaume Laurant (scenario) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (scenario) Guillaume Laurant (dialogue).

Audrey TautouAmélie Poulain
Mathieu KassovitzNino Quincampoix
RufusRaphaël Poulain
Lorella CravottaAmandine Poulain
Serge MerlinRaymond Dufayel
Jamel DebbouzeLucien
Clotilde MolletGina

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