Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
Written by Guillaume Laurent.
Starring Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz.
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 11/29/01
On the advice of a few others, plus my own
interest in reading subtitles for a couple of hours, I went to see
the much-hyped French film “Amelie” today with my friend Katy for an
afternoon matinee. Since foreign movies that make it to the States
must be at least decent, I knew that I would be in for a treat.
“Amelie” follows a story arc (but, not a
visual style) amazingly close to last year's Best Picture nominee
In that regard, this lighthearted comedy follows the title
character (played by Audrey Tautou) as she decides to pursue a life
of do-goodedness and improve the happiness of those she comes into
contact with in 1997 Paris, following the death of Princess Di.
Whether it be helping her restaurant patrons find true love, or help
a local man rediscover his lost relationship with a child, or help
her dad find a reason to get out of the house, Amelie finds creative
ways to solve all kinds of problems in a fun way...and, somehow
finds the time to pursue a childhood companion (Mathieu Kassovitz)
that she may or may not be in love with.
As I said, this movie felt like “Chocolat”
constantly. Tautou first off looks very, very similar to Juliette
Binoche...the story takes place in a France of the past...the main
character is driven by making the locals feel good...the main
character finds an unlikely romance in an outsider that makes his
way through the town. But, the biggest difference is director
Jean-Pierre Jeunet's style. He creates a beautiful world in this
film, one that is mostly based in reality but adds enough little
touches of fantasy to make it stand apart. Being French, there are
a gratuitous amount of sex-related things going on here, but nothing
that will make going to see this film with your mom too
uncomfortable. It doesn't hurt that this film is very well shot and
Tautou is a great screen presence, too. The picture depends more on
Tautou's performance than Binoche's in “Chocolat” and as such, we
feel for her throughout the film's brilliant first 100 minutes or
But, much like North Carolina's Jason Capel,
“Amelie” runs into trouble as it tries to finish the break. Without
giving anything away, when the film tries to wrap up the title
character's romantic troubles, the movie dragged out its final
twenty minutes to the point where Katy looked over at me and said
simply, “Yeah, you know what? That is ONE too many notes being
passed around!” (You have to see it to know what I mean.) Director
Jeunet just doesn't seem to know how to walk away from his narrative
and it results in the film straying from the perfection it sets up
so well throughout.
Otherwise, this is one of the best films of
the year. Lots of laughs (the scenes with “the gnome” will have you
rolling), lots of great supporting cast members, and the rarity that
is a film for everyone, despite the feeling you guys might get that
this is a “chick flick.” But, why can't movies just end any more?
“Mulholland Drive” had a similar problem—if you just cut off the
ending, it would be in the all-time classic mold, but it dragged 30
extra minutes that left me in the dust.
Rating: $8.25 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard