Amelie is a delightful French movie, a lovely way to spend a rainy afternoon. It is a truly whimsical film, having been compared to those in the style of several Audrey Hepburn movies. Indeed, even its lead actor Audrey Tautou has more than just her first name in common with my idol. She resembles her in appearance, what with the pixie haircut, large eyes, and adorable grin, but even moreso, her personality reminds me of her namesake. She charms the audience with her impish, yet so endearing behaviour – you pretty much just can’t help but love her!
This aesthetically beautiful film is rich in colour, a style that has been copied by the tv show Pushing Daisies. As an artist, I felt I could have just sat there with the sound and subtitles off and just watched the screen much like a moving art exhibit. This is not one of those movies that you just watch…you feel it! I have heard it said that all one has to do to create lovely scenery in which to set a movie, is to place it in Paris. You can save money on elaborate sets and draw people in with some of the most beautiful backdrops in the world. Although I have seen my share of lousy films set in Paris and not even the scenery was enough to save them, I would agree that it does provide an advantage. This movie, however, takes it far beyond the inherent charm and ambiance of Paris. The depth and choice of colour palette mixed with some scenes entirely in black and white make the scenes truly enchanting.
I wouldn’t suggest you skip the dialogue though because this is one of the most well crafted pieces I have seen. The story is imaginative, heartwarming, and quirky. It has somewhat of a magical quality to it, almost a modern fairy tale in nature. Amelie has had a very sheltered childhood, raised mainly by an overprotective and somewhat emotionally detached father who wrongly believed that she had a heart condition. She was homeschooled and kept away from the outside world and this caused her to be quite shy and quiet. She survived by retreating into a vivid world of imaginary friends. As an adult, she feels like an outsider merely observing the lives of the others around her. A chance event occurring at age 24 leads Amelie on an adventure of trying to brighten up other people’s lives anonymously. One of her acts involved sending her dad’s garden gnome on a trip around the world so that he can travel vicariously, which then inspires the Travelocity Roaming Gnome ad campaign. Finally, Amelie turns her attention to the object of her affections and seeks out a little happiness for herself. Amelie’s adventures become the viewer’s adventures and it’s a delightful ride!