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Amateur (1995)

Isabelle Huppert , Martin Donovan , Hal Hartley  |  R |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Isabelle Huppert, Martin Donovan, Elina Löwensohn, Damian Young, Chuck Montgomery
  • Directors: Hal Hartley
  • Writers: Hal Hartley
  • Producers: Hal Hartley, Jerome Brownstein, Lindsay Law, Scott Meek, Ted Hope
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: November 11, 2003
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000CDRW0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,606 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Amateur" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Making-of featurette

Editorial Reviews

A crackpot ex-nun who writes pornographic short stories crosses paths with an amnesiac wandering the streets of New York City. When they set out to uncover his identity, they come face to face with his unsavory past – including a vengeful porno actress and ruthless corporate assassins hot on their trail.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amateur rewiew March 22, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I was channel-surfing when I landed on IFC showing a "comedy-drama" called Amateur. It was nearly an hour in, and there was this scene of these two geeky accountant types arguing about the merits of various cell-phones while using the wires from a floorlamp to electrocute a Christopher Lloyd look-alike. High-concept, but decidedly "B", I thought. But as the movie progressed, I began to notice the deliberation that led to the quirky stagger of the film. The style itself was saying things that the action couldn't begin to convey. This was high art! And it was funny in an intentionally-unintentional way.
The plot, about an ex-nun who now writes bad pornography, a porn queen with a grudge, and an ex-pornongrapher with amnesia, each searching for their identity, is interesting, but it doesn't begin to tell of the impressive stylishness of this movie. Amateur sucks you in like Beckett mixed with "letters to Penthouse", and leaves you satisfied on both accounts. If this sounds good to you, you should check it out. It shows on IFC quite frequently. Oh also, this movie turned me into a freak for Elina Lowensohn.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gets better with repeated viewings December 22, 1998
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Like all Hal Hartley films (I've seen Flirt and Henry Fool, but neither are as good as Amateur), this is a decidedly odd and mannered movie. The first time I saw it, the far-fetched plot and stilted characterizations are a bit unnerving. This is an ambitious project--Hartley explores the fall of man (an event which literally precedes the film) and original sin in the context of an off-kilter Manhattan thriller. There are some hilariously delivered deadpan one-liners (Martin Donovan: "You're a nyphmomanic and you've never had sex? How could that be?" Isabelle Huppert: "I'm choosy.") But the heart of the movie revolves around the title, and how, try as we might, we cannot escape who we are--Hartley seems to suggest that humanity's flaws are indelible, and despite the guises we might adopt, we are only novices. Amateur ranks low on entertainment value (see Air Force One instead), but a great thinking person's film: brainy, sly, somber, and at times (especially the ending), heartbreaking. Hartley's beguiling screenplay unravels its original insights upon repeated viewings, and it makes the effort worthwhile.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pure Hartley May 9, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
A chance encounter in a coffee shop between two people, both of whom are seeking their own identities (one literally, one figuratively), leads to a relationship seemingly beneficial to both, but for different reasons, in "Amateur," written and directed by Hal Hartley. A man (Martin Donovan) wakes up one morning lying on his back in a quiet, out-of-the-way street in New York City; all he knows is that he's bleeding from the back of his head and is suffering from total amnesia. He has no identification on him; he has no idea who he is or how he came to be on that street. Dazed, he stumbles into a small coffee shop and sits down at the counter. He tries to order something, but the only money he has is Dutch, and he has no idea why. A young woman, also sitting at the counter and working on a lap-top computer, observes his plight and notices the blood on the back of his neck.
Her name is Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert); asking for some water, she cleans his injury and buys him something to eat. Isabelle, it turns out, is a former nun, having only recently left the convent after fifteen years. Rather lost herself, she is attempting to make a living by writing pornographic stories for a magazine. A self-professed nymphomaniac (though she is still a virgin), she also feels that she has a specific purpose in life, a destiny she has yet to fulfill, though she has yet to figure out what it is. But she believes that meeting this man is a sign; perhaps he's a part of whatever it is she has to do. So she decides to help him, which just may lead her to the answers she is seeking about her own life, as well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars preachin' to the converted September 29, 2000
By t ayer
Format:VHS Tape
this is one of the best movies you'll find! hal hartley is one of america's most underrated filmmakers, right up there with p.t. anderson. for the uninitiated, hals' films stretch desire to its' very breaking point...see this and you'll be scouring your local video stores for everything that you can by the guy.
if only hollywood had more people like him making movies instead of all of the junk that tries to see how many different ways one can blow things up!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece December 29, 1999
By lbangs
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Restraint wrings our emotion. Jumping up and down can express joy, but a perfect ballet segment will convey ecstasy so complete the dance pratically creates it. Subtlety often can explode emotions larger than realism.
Hal Hartley understands this. The characters in his film do not talk like real people. Their speech is subdued, flat, and usually bluntly honest. Their small words carry mountains of meaning.
Most mystery films focus on the identity of the bad guy. This film instead chooses to explore the bad guy's identity. The film opens with him laying unconscious on a cobblestone street. He awakes but has no idea who he is. With this premise, the audience always knows who the bad guy is. He is in almost every frame of the feature. The rest of the film sets about discovering who the bad guy is.
I'm avoiding the film's plot. Telling too much about this film steals many of its pleasures, although I have enjoyed it each of the ten times I have seen it. Most scenes are arranged as artfully as a painting, the actors understand and enlarge Hartley's vision, and the music, ranging from Liz Phair to Pavement, is excellent.
This film may well be the best the ninties have to offer. Hartley's own Simple Men is one of the only other real contenders.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amateur night at club dada
It's Mussorgsky's 'Pictures At An Exhibition' a la Henry Mancini's 'Peter Gunn' theme.
It's Jack Kerouac recites a Dashiell Hammett novel. Read more
Published 3 months ago by daniel r. esian
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Hal Hartley films
Amateur is one of the best Hartley films. Great characters, dialogue, and nice tips of the hat to the human condition with some good laughs as well.
Published on April 12, 2011 by mikea
4.0 out of 5 stars If You Like 'Pulp Fiction', You'll Like 'Amateur'
In fact, if I didn't know the release date of both films, I'd be tempted to accuse one director of lifting from the other or vice versa. Read more
Published on November 23, 2010 by venussansfurs
5.0 out of 5 stars Pornographic Fiction
The best of Hal Hartley & Huppert, an ex nun who writes pornographic fiction.
+ Very funny Yuppie-Hit men. Read more
Published on August 23, 2010 by Peter Csihas
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hal Hartley classic
I am getting hooked on the Hal Hartley films and although I haven't seen them all I am such a fan that I would say any of his movies from the 80s and 90s I'd consider classic. Read more
Published on April 12, 2009 by Blair Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars HAL'S NO AMATEUR1
Published on July 9, 2007 by John P. Janssen
3.0 out of 5 stars I really wanted to like this more...
The subject matter alone drew me to this movie. Not knowing the history of the director, Hal Hartley, but knowing of his followers, I decided to check it out. Read more
Published on March 8, 2007 by Gialloman
4.0 out of 5 stars The Hartley Factor
Typically, Hartley's films are not for everyone (some might argue they're not for anyone). Still, if you've got the patience, you familiarize yourself with the style of writing,... Read more
Published on April 12, 2005 by G P Padillo
4.0 out of 5 stars Who is "this man?"
"Do you know this man?" During the opening scene of AMATEUR "this man" finds himself sprawled out on a cobblestone road outside an apartment building in New York. Read more
Published on January 27, 2005 by Steven Sprague
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Hartley Ever
This is my favorite Hal Hartley film, several of the scenes do not fail to bring a tear to my eye or give me a feeling of frisson and I saw it for the first time in 1995. Read more
Published on April 22, 2004 by K. M. Murphy
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