Take a Drink: for likes and dislikes
Take a Drink: for imaginary creatures and features
Take a Drink: for close-ups on Amelie’s face
Take a Drink: for revenge pranks
Take a Drink: for serendipity
Take a Drink: for photobooths
Take a Drink: for each gnome picture
Do a Shot: for sex
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
We watched Amelie in high school French class which, A) makes me wonder if our teacher had even seen this often gloriously sexual film, and B) began my love affair with Audrey Tautou.
Amelie is the story of Amelie (Tautou), a strange child who grew up into a quirky young woman who just wants everybody to be happy, and loves helping people out. But will this cherubic young lady find another odd kindred soul to share her life with?
It’s been many years and several disappointing films from the French kings of whimsy, Michel Gondry and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, since I’ve watched Amelie, and I was a tad afraid that its remembered charms had turned saccharine in the years since. Well, I’m happy to report… only a little.
It seems like Jean-Pierre Jeunet set out to make the quintessential Parisian comedy, and he succeeds so well that it’s one of the first things that come to mind when I hear “Paris”. Through his and DP Bruno Delbonnel’s energetic camerawork and colorful saturated visuals and the game contributions of an enthusiastic cast, Amelie brings the City of Love to vibrant life.
A portrait incomplete without the sex shops, of course.
Amelie the film and Amelie the character are funny, charming, and sweet… and rather weird, which brings it all together into a memorable package and leaves room for the perfect pinch of pathos that elevates things from diverting fluff into a human story we can all identify with. That moment where all the amusing voiceover, movie montages, and goofy asides go silent and two lonely people find each other’s lips is simply incredible.
No discussion of Amelie is complete without lauding Audrey Tautou, who anchors almost every frame of the film, often in close-up of those enormously expressive eyes of hers. All of the adjectives I used for the film and character also apply to her performance, so much so that they’re inseparable- I literally can’t imagine anyone else in the role. It’s a simply iconic turn.
Perhaps my appetite for them has been spoiled a little by Mood Indigo and T.S. Spivet, but some of Jeunet’s flights of fancy feel a little too precious and contrived. A beer will take care of that nagging feeling, though.
Yesssh, come to me my pretty.
Or perhaps not. Just like there’s a thin line between romantic and creepy (imagine that weird guy/gal with the lazy eye chasing you through the airport with flowers), there’ s a thin line between whimsical and disturbed. Amelie tightrope-walks it, and does a few somersaults to boot (see: the psychological torture of the poor asshole grocer), these three beers are for those who think it tumbles off.
Good thing I’m not a heartless cad whose reservoir of childish joy has completely evaporated just yet, so I can admit that Amelie’s boffo final montage hits me right in the feel-goods every. single. time. Vive Amelie!