director Jean-Pierre Jeunet
I’ve fondly remembered Amélie over the years and when I saw it available on Netflix streaming, I thought it might be a fun one to watch with Felix and Clara. My kids have been a little more averse to foreign language films lately but I don’t want their inclinations of laziness to limit what they see. They were not uninterested in Amélie, they were intrigued by the description and the image of the movie.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film was a thing of its time, not so much emblematic of the turn of the millennium but one of the most popular artifacts of its era. Amélie became a very popular name in the years following the film’s release because naming your daughter after the charming and whimsical beauty played by Audrey Tautou…well, who wouldn’t want their daughter to be just such a lovely, idealized fantasy girl?
The story of Amélie is set in Paris, a fantasy Paris that probably also was fantastic for tourism, about a self-conscious young woman uncomfortable in her own life but fascinated with observing others and ultimately toying in a God-like fashion with the lives of her people. Obsessed with the minutiae and variety or secret facts and motivations, it speaks to that nature of youthful optimism of love and joie de vivre, shot with Jeunet’s inventive lens and some serious color filters that give the film its green and yellow patina.
Sure, it’s twee. It’s almost the definition of twee, but it’s also charming and fun and light-hearted.
Clara really enjoyed it. Felix liked it too. Oddly enough, I had a hard time evoking Jeunet’s The City of Lost Children (1995) to Clara to remind her of another film we’d seen by the director.
Tautou’s Amélie is for the ages. What a beauty. A quirky, charming beauty.