on August 9, 2002
I don't often view foreign language films. I find it maddening to try to read the subtitles and watch the film at the same time. Also, I had heard such glowing reviews about this film that I was prepared to be disappointed as well as frazzled. I could not have been more wrong.
This is a wonderful, wonderful film. Amelie (Audrey Tautou) is a mousey girl living in Paris whose life is so ordinary that it borders on pathetic. One day she discovers a tin box in her apartment with little toys and keepsakes of a young child that was hidden behind a wall decades ago. She sets out on a mission to find the boy and return the treasures to him. If the mission has a positive effect, she vows to devote herself to doing good deeds for others. This leads to numerous touching and droll adventures, where Amelie doles out her own personal brand of justice to various characters, both good and evil. Along the way she discovers love and turns it into a cat and mouse game of mystery and fascination, making her lover fall for her and pursue her without ever knowing who she is.
The story is brilliantly written, with a wry sense of humor. Only the French could make mundane situations so funny, ironic, charming and philosophical at the same time. It is a marvelous mix of intrigue, misdirection and offbeat humor. Director Jean Pierre Jeunet squeezes the maximum amount of wit, sentimentality and humanness from every frame. The Parisian street scenes are wonderfully done showing us more of an insider's look at Paris than a tourist's guidebook.
Audrey Tautou is captivating in the lead role. She reminds me of Audrey Hepburn, full of breathy enthusiasm with a twinkle in her eye and mischief on her mind. When she is good she's wonderful, and when she's bad she's even better.
This is an enthralling delight of a film, like a glass of sparkling French burgundy. It will make you chuckle and tug your heart strings. I rated it a 10/10. Even if you hate subtitles, see this film. You won't regret it.
on December 1, 2009
I'm going to assume that anyone looking at this listing is familiar with the movie Amélie and will stick to technical details of this release. If you want thoughts about the movie, I suggest taking a look at the 980+ reviews of the DVD: Amélie Suffice to say that this is a "top 5" favorite movie for me, since I first saw it in a theater, or I wouldn't have bothered importing it on Blu-ray Disc.
This Blu-ray Disc was released by Icon in Australia. It comes in a blue Amaray case that is the same height as a regular BD case but is the same thickness as a standard DVD case.
The main menu and movie are in Region A, B, C ("region-free") High Definition and will play on any Blu-ray Disc player. The leading trailers and extras are in standard definition PAL format and will not play correctly on most USA/Canada BD players, except for region-free ones (such as Momitsu, or equivalent).
The disc opens with some copyright screens in high definition (I thought the "don't burn" one was nicely done). These are followed by some PAL trailers that are not watchable on NTSC BD players. The main menu button doesn't work but the trailers can easily be skipped by using the "chapter skip" button on the player remote. That brings you to the main menu, in high definition. The main menu doesn't have a "setup" tab. Instead, when the movie is played, the disc defaults to the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track with English subtitles "on" (they can be turned off if you wish). Very convenient. (For those folks with front projectors, please note that the subtitles are "Sony-style" and have the top line in the 2.35:1 image and the lower line below the picture. This can be a problem for those using 2.35:1 masked screens.)
I thought the movie was lovely in high definition; I couldn't ask for a better presentation. Perhaps someone with a higher end system can find flaws to criticize but for me, this is what I was hoping for with this purchase. Best of all, this release has the correct English subtitles! The Disney/Miramax DVD release had numerous subtitle errors, some of which changed the meaning of the dialog and led to confusion. Having the correct subtitles is a big plus for me and was the other thing I was hoping for in this release, in addition to a good high def picture.
To sum up: this release of Amélie is gorgeous in high definition and has the correct subtiles. But the extras aren't viewable on most USA/Canada BD players. Since I've already seen the extras on the DVD, I'm happy to have the movie in high def at last. Very pleased with my purchase. I'm giving this BD four stars because the extras and leading trailers can't be viewed on NTSC BD players (they could have converted them to HD). But the movie itself is five stars all the way!
on December 16, 2002
The title character of Amelie is so adorable, you can't help but love her. She is a young woman who takes so much pleasure in helping other people find happiness, she forgets to find a little for herself. Whether she's trying to fix up a co-worker with a regular customer, or defending a shy young man at the grocery store who is picked on by his boss, Amelie is the ultimate do-gooder. She is so cute and sweet, you kind of wish she was YOUR friend. This is a wonderful French film (by far, the best I have ever seen) that will charm the heck out of you. This film had me from the very beginning, when it was showing Amelie as a little girl (wreaking havoc with the neighbor's television reception), right up until the very end where she lived happily ever after. And yes, it is quirky - but not bad quirky. For instance, the scenes where Amelie's father keeps receiving pictures in the mail of his missing garden gnome in various countries, yes it's a little odd - but hilarious. If you're looking for a light, fun film, this is it. Nevermind the subtitles, you may not even need them - you'll be so fixed on the beautiful scenery, and on Audrey Tautou that you may even forget to pay attention to the dialogue. That is the power of this film. Just sit back, relax, and spend some quality time in Amelie's world. It's a great place.
on December 10, 2002
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie! It may not be an intellectual feast for the mind, or a gritty documentary about the pain and suffering of real life, but it DOES remind us of the simpler side of life and what it is to see the world as a child might see it. This is entertainment, so I must protest, it is entitled be whatever sugar-coated confection it wants to be! And it is not really so sugar-coated. Nino works in a porn shop (though it is surprisingly un-seedy), and other characters have their problems (though they seem surprisingly easy to solve by our irrepressible heroine). Amelie is a sweet, Ally McBeal-esque girl who has never really grown up. She is still the little girl who lives in a world of her own imagination. And if those glasses are rose-coloured, who are we to say that the way she sees the world is worse than the more pessimistic brand of cynicism that seems to be so rampant in "realism" today? Amelie reminds us that perhaps, after all, the children, with their innocent idealism and little games, have somehow got it right.
Both Amelie and her accidental "amoureux" are adorable, though I thought perhaps Jeunet might have taken a cue from Jane Austen and pointed out that Amelie's interference with other people's lives, like Emma, sometimes turned out badly (like Georgette and her psychotic lover), and Amelie should have taken some responsibility for that. But perhaps that is my North American liberalism speaking. I loved the integration of the fantasy with reality: talking pig-lamps, the photographs that speak to Nino about the "beautiful" mysterious girl....are they merely manifestations of Nino and Amelie's subconscious thought, or is destiny really working miracles to bring them together? And it is the pointing out of the details of life that holds the movie together in terms of story. After all, most people's stories are manifested through the details...this is the stuff life (or at least an ideal one) is made of...c'est la vie. And everybody, not just Amelie and Nino, has their quirks. I thought the narrated introduction at the beginning of the film quite funny in its portrayal of the silly and the absurd that really, though exaggerated, makes up much of our lives. And the characters! Oh the characters! There's not a sane one in the lot (it has been said that the French have their own distinct brand of madness..j/k)! Nevertheless, we see echos of people we know in each of them, in the jealous boyfriend, the angry grocer, the kind painter, etc. And perhaps there is an Amelie in some of us too, shy introverts who think up strategems to avoid confronting our true passions.
Last but not least, the cinematography is excellent. It may not be realistic (I lived in Paris for a few years and it isn't), but it's a pretty fantasy of an Ideal Paris.
All in all, it's a satisfying fantasy with a happy ending. And in these days, don't we all need some more happy endings?
on October 27, 2002
Let me make something perfectly clear right from the start. Amelie is not a comedy. Amelie is not a romance movie. Amelie is nothing less than a work of fine art! Amelie is certainly not a romantic comedy and if you set out to judge it by these standards you are apt to be disappointed. Also bear in mind that like a classical symphony, it must be experienced several times before this wonderful movie can be fully appreciated.
I first heard the word, "Amelie" on a pay-per-view ad, the first thing I thought of was a brand of motor oil from the fifties. (Maybe spelled Amalie?), "Well", I thought, "any girl named after a brand of engine oil is worth checking out". Then when I saw the teaser on TV I thought; "Any movie that features a black-haired, doe-eyed pixie and an animated pig-lamp must be worth seeing".
I expected a light entertainment, a bit-o-fluff romantic comedy, and thats exactly what I saw. But deep in my soul I began to sense something else. So I watched it again and a whole new world began to reveal itself. then somewhere around the fifth viewing it hit me; This is cinematic magic! A symphonic dream of light, sound and love brought to life for all to see. Yes, it took five viewings before it got through my hard shell of cynicism. I am so glad it did!
Amelie lives in a beautiful fantasy world where streets are clean and uncongested. A world where waitresses and store clerks find happiness and love. Where bad guys get there comeuppance and not a single drop of blood is spilled. For anyone who grew up lonely, got picked on but never picked for the team, those who would never be a cheerleader or have a chance to date one, this movie tells your story. The entire film is populated with also-rans. Lame bartenders, failed writers, hypochondriacs. People like we meet everyday in the grim, soul crushing, ultraviolet stained world of reality. But these lucky souls live in a beautiful, green and orange colored world where hope still lives and dreams still come true.
After a long, hard, day at work, when I've dodged all the angry and bitter people on the freeway and performed all the daily chores that let me keep resident on earth for yet another day, then its time. I take off my shoes, relax and enter Amelie's little world. Soon I feel the anger and depression slip away and for a while, life is worth living again.
Maybe this movie should be prescribed as therapy.
With its opening sequence of kalidescopic visuals and rapid-fire narration, viewers who do not speak French (myself included) are likely to find Jean-Pierre Jeunet's celebrated AMELIE a challenge, for it is rather difficult to watch the film and read the subtitles at the same time. That said, once you are able to sycronize these elements in your head, you are in for a treat: AMELIE is simply one of the most charming films to emerge from France in many, many years.
Considering that the film is both foreign and subtitled, and therefore presumably has a somewhat limited appeal for English-only audiences, it's story has become remarkably well-known in a very short time among English-only audiences--a fact that attests to its power. Amelie is a shy, somewhat reclusive young woman, the product of an emotionally distant father and profoundly neurotic mother, who hides from life as a waitress in a small cafe while cultivating "small pleasures"--skipping stones over water, dipping her hands into sacks of grain at the local market to feel the texture, and the like. One day she discovers a box hidden behind the wall of her apartment bathroom, a tiny box filled with childhood toys stashed away by a long-ago childhood tenent. She sets out to return them to the now-adult man who hid and forgot them so many years before... and when she sees his pleasure she finds a purpose in life: she will secretly do things to make others happier in their life, thereby vicariously living out the happiness she herself is afraid to accept. In the process she not only brings life-changing joy to those around her, but she discovers her own need for happiness and the courage to change that she might experience happiness for herself.
The story is actually quite slight, but director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, his star Audrey Tautou, and a remarkable cast of supporting players give it tremendous style and an unexpectedly self-mocking sense of humor. The film is full of visual metaphors: at various moments we see the hearts of different characters beating inside their bodies, Amelie fantasizes about hearing herself lectured by the television, the object of her affection is teased by talking photographs, and in one particularly memorable scene Amelie's disappointment is envisioned by morphing her body into a column of water that collapses with a splash to the ground. The characters are mix of archetypes and glitchy eccentricity; the cinematography is shockingly beautiful; and everything about the film is gentle, sweetly funny, and sure to leave you with a Gallic smile and a wish that life were actually like that.
Tautou is a remarkable young actress who has been widely compared to both Audrey Hepburn and Leslie Caron--and indeed there is more than a passing similarity. But she plays the title role with a knowing quality that belongs to her alone, and although the role (and indeed all roles in the film) is essentially archetypical her performance has a youthful grace slightly tempered by unexpected self-awareness: extremely effective and extremely endearing. The film would be worth seeing for this performance alone, but fortunately AMELIE is remarkably rich in all its elements.
Those expecting "depth" may disappointed, for the life-lessons the films offers are not profound in themselves; others may find the film's odd mix of Brechtian distance, sly wit, and warmth a bit off-putting--and it would be easy to read the film as a somewhat diadactic comedy that doesn't entirely come off. But if you can grasp the thought that the film isn't about anything beyond making you chuckle, smile, and rejoice in the small pleasures of life, you will find it extremely, extremely enjoyable. The DVD comes with a second disk full of extras, including audition footage, outtakes, and the like that both cinephiles and Francophiles are sure enjoy. Recommended.
"Amélie" is a film where you want to find the perfect word for describing its charm. There is probably such a word in French, but I would not know what it was. All I know is that quirky, enchanting, and everything I come up with in English is wholy inadequate to the task at hand. The most important thing to know is that "Amélie" is a film where you should go see it because so many people love it, even if it requires you to not to do anything else so you can read the subtitles (some people resist such demands and--shudder--listen to dubbed versions of "Life is Beautiful" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"). I feel about this film the way I did about "Memento," where I told people they should see it and refused to tell them anything else because it would ruin the experience (think the Heisenberg principle). However, I think the audience that would enjoy "Amélie" is considerably wider than those who would cotton to "Memento" (which was a quirky little film).
So, I am giving you my strongest recommendation for you to see "Amélie." Now, if you have not yet seen the film, please go away, because I want to talk to those who have seen the film and while I am not going to be providing what we would traditionally consider "spoilers," you really sure come to view this film as pure and chaste as the driven snow (of which we have lots up here).
I find it interesting that the film's French title "Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain" was reduced to just "Amélie" for American consumption. Combined with the green framed portrait of actress Audrey Tautou smiling impishly as the title character, this certainly does not give viewers a real idea of what they will discover in this film. One of the chief charms of the film for me was how you had to pay attention to the details because almost everything was a clue as to future developments (the exception that proves the rule would be Blubber, whose return we patiently waited for throughout the entire film).
Jean-Pierre Jeunet establishes the fabulous world of Amélie Poulain in the creative prologue, which establishes what each of our cast of characters likes to do. We then begin 48 hours in which d'Amélie's life is changed. Of course such massive developments hinge on a bottle cap fallen to the floor. Our heroine's efforts to sabotage the life of Collignon (Urbain Cancelier), the Grocer (who will never be confused with an artichoke), struck my funny bone exceedingly hard and her relationship with the Glass Man, Raymond Dufayel (Serge Merlin), was particularly nice, both their discussions about the girl with the wine glass in the Renoir painting and the old man giving her the final push to her destiny. The only question is whether Nino Quincampoix (Mathieu Kassovitz), is really good enough for our girl, but if she is smitten with a man who collects torn up and discarded photographs from photo booths around town, who are we to challenge her choice?
The end of the fabulous 48 hours at which point our heroine finds her destiny does not offer a perfect world. Some find true bliss in love, others finally go on trips, but some still right where they started, unpublished, afflicted by imaginary illnesses, or consumed by jealousy. But as long as Amélie lives happily ever after we are content. I pity the person who does not fall in love with this film.
on November 2, 2002
I've been reading some reviews for this film and I really don't care for how unrealistic this film is said to be. Yes...life is not like the movies, but can we not have the movies take our mundane lives and artistically manipulate it into something more? One French reviewer said that it did not portray Paris in the way it was at all. I don't think that really was the point of the movie, nor to portray the most intelligent protagonist. Amelie is a simple girl. There is nothing wrong with that. The world consists of more than just intellectuals. We already know what the world is like...what reality puts forth. Why would we have to sit through a movie that shows all of that if we can just step outside our door? I believe that movies are a form of escape...artistic expression...a way to give form to our dreams. I don't believe we should make all our movies with our heads in the clouds, but it's good that once in awhile, someone can create something not out of pragmatism but just pure, simple human emotion and fantasy. The movie was not meant to be a documentary. Everyone nowadays flocks to the blockbuster hits...action films...films with provocative actresses and promiscuity...or even the downright hardcore films that portray reality right down to its extreme complexities (Requiem For a Dream, FIght Club, which i do like). It's a nice change to watch a simple film that focuses on artistic imagery and musical score rather than fast paced plot and sexually, superficially stimulating fidgeting with bad actors. I feel that this movie shows how we forget about the simple things we all can afford in life...how we forget how refreshing and liberating those simple things can be.
Don't read reviews of the French film "Amelie" in advance, because the impression you'll get before you see it is: This is "Emma" on acid. And it isn't -- it's a sweet, whimsical, weird, and touching little tale about a shy young woman with a big heart. She's nobody's little weasel... yet! But as the movie progresses, you'll rapidly want to see her become somebody's little weasel.
Amelie (Audrey Tatou) is a shy, introspective young woman with a vivid imagination and a quirky sense of humor. One day she accidently finds a little box of toys and photographs, and goes on a little quest to find the owner, decades later, and give him back his box. When the return of the box improves the man's life, Amelie is so pleased that she decides to keep helping others be happy in their own lives.
She gives a brittle-boned, reclusive old artist videos of pleasant things. She booby-traps a nasty grocer's apartment because of the way he treats a sweet, slow young man preoccupied by the late Princess Di. She directs a jealous man to a hypochondriac tobacconist in the hopes of making them both happy, sends her lonely father's garden gnome around the world (her father is still grieving for Amelie's mother, who was killed by a suicidal Canadian tourist leaping off a cathedral), and her landlady who still grieves for her late, unfaithful husband. But then Amelie encounters a dreamy young man, Nino, and finds a collection of photographs that he has collected. Will Amelie be able to do for herself what she has done for others -- and fall in love?
It certainly says something about "Amelie" that all the copies were virtually unavailable in my area for the longest time. It's a very sweet, cute, romantic film with a lot of nice visual tricks and likeable characters. If you don't like movies where people can fall in love at first sight, paintings talk, goldfish commit suicide and statues wink, then you won't like this -- one of the best moments is when a quartet of photographs tell Nino that he has fallen in love with Amelie "in your dreams." (It takes a lot to make me melt, but that did it) And it's very rare that in movies, people do nice things just for the sake of it. One of my favorite scenes is Amelie guiding a blind man down the street, rapidly describing the things around them.
And the little visual tricks, while they aren't totally necessary, are a nice touch to the movie -- Amelie being so unhappy that she turns into a puddle of water, her heart speeding up as she makes eye contact with Nino, and watching news reports about her life on the TV. Romantic moments abound -- a scene where Amelie and Nino hesitantly kiss parts of each other's faces is exquisite. And it's funny too, from the suicidal goldfish to the travelling garden gnome to the grocer's booby-trapped apartment, especially the speed dial that calls a psychiatric ward.
Audrey Tatou is wonderful as Amelie, managing to be mischievous and innocent, sweet and sad. Matthieu Kassovitz is vastly underrated as Nino Quincampoix, a dreamy young man who works at an adult video store with a gyrating stripper (yes, it's an odd place for Amelie's soulmate to work, but just watch!). Serge Merlin is good as the likeable, gruff, grumpy Dufayel, Rufus is poignant as Amelie's withdrawn dad, and all the supporting actors weave together in a complex plot that centers on... Amelie.
Like Amelie herself, "Amelie" is sweet and cute and funny and likeable, quirky and romantic. If you have even an ounce of romance in your soul, then sit back and visit "Amelie" in Paris in the springtime.
on April 24, 2002
Although I have studied French @ University to PhD Level & have therefore been influenced by French cinema, I can objectively say that Amelie is a movie that can inspire & mesmerise the most hardened anglophone. Perhaps one of great cultural changes of recent times has been Hollywood's embrace of more & more foreign language movies (Life Is Beautiful, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Ring, Audition to name but a few). Amelie's appearance is therefore as timely & strategic as it is wonderful. The film embarks on a magical journey of a young & naive girl who works as a waitress in Montmartre & the quirks of her everyday life & the people with whom she encounters. Amusing & touching, & perfectly shot, the tight script & gripping colours & cinematography render this oeuvre a captivating watch which shall mesmerise again & again. Audrey Tatou plays the ingenue with such wit & charm (as the cheeky cover alone suggests) as a woman who influences others more than she wishes her own life to be influenced. Some of the most captivating scenes are Tatou dashing pebbles across the water (it's ony about 15 seconds long but majestically shot) & the character introductions at the beginning (her parents are wickedly hilarious) & the evil greengrocer & Amelie's revenge on him. If there's one movie you should consider purchasing it is definitely this. Perhaps my favourite French movie now (along with Les Visiteurs, Manon Des Sources & Cyrano de Bergerac), it shall get repeated plays on my DVD player. Great extra features too!