Not A (Film) Review: Amélie
April 18, 2009

Here's a quick idea of how much I like Amélie: at the end of it, having watched it for the third time, I had to stop myself from cheering. Even ten minutes in, remembering just why it's such a remarkable piece of work, I wanted nothing more than to press pause and talk about it for hours. If I were to draft up a template for something resembling my ideal film, Amélie's blueprints would be it. It's astonishing.

There are a few reasons why this is the case. Most immediately, it's incredibly uplifting. Anyone who can watch Amélie without a constant, moronic smile plastered across their silly face may be advised to book a slot in the nearest morgue. The tale of one girl's all-encompassing dream to improve the lives of those around her, and eventually - with a little help - that of herself, is enough to melt any ordinary person into a globule of runny sunshine.

This may sound like a simplistic narrative, but the complexity is startling. It's mainly down to the characterisation - set up remarkably well in the opening narration - of some of the most tangible characters ever portrayed in film. Every action, every expression, every word in Amélie is so human. The individual performances push the boundaries of acting into something that might as well be real life, even despite the distinctive art direction. And the script - the English translation of it, at least - is poetically beautiful. But it's the minute details that set this apart from any competitor that springs to mind. Glances. Gestures. Trains of thought. They're everyone's little secret quirks that are usually kept hidden safe inside the confines of our own minds. Amélie doesn't so much wear them on its sleeve as thrust them in your face and surround them with a glowing aura.

It's a film about shameless dreamers, for shameless dreamers.

Artistic but never pompous, every inch of this film is astounding in its perfection. The whole point of starting these Not A Reviews was that I wouldn't have to think about the silliness of putting a number on the end, but this makes me wish I gave a traditional rating. A pure, fucking inspirational, ten out of ten, if I've ever seen one.


An important post-script: Audrey Tautou is fucking beautiful.

Most recent blog posts from Lewis Denby...

EmP EmP - April 18, 2009 (10:48 AM)
This almost sounds like a challenge to sit through this film and still be my wonderfully negative self.

Even if it's not, I accept! To the DVD store!
bloomer bloomer - April 18, 2009 (06:14 PM)
I'm a dreamer, but I still feel like strangling Amelie. I know lots of folks who do, so there's no need for this talk of morgues.
Lewis Lewis - April 19, 2009 (12:53 AM)
Really? I'm genuinely surprised.
bloomer bloomer - April 19, 2009 (01:53 AM)
The film is a known polariser. I remember when it came out, anyone I spoke to either adored it or couldn't tolerate it. Then when 'At The Movies' (good film criticism show here) had their viewers poll fave movie roundup a couple of years ago, Amelie was in there, and the panel split right in half there on TV when discussing it, hehe.
Lewis Lewis - April 19, 2009 (02:52 AM)
I think if I adopted a cynical attitude I would have hated it. (I'm not saying you did.)

While Amélie received glowing reviews when it came out here in the UK, in France the reception wasn't so good. Many critics scorned it for presenting an overly romantic picture of Paris at a time when the city was suffering through a number of problems - but I can only see this as a positive thing in a film that's all about optimism in the face of defeat.

It's lovely. So, so lovely. And I usually hate feelgood films.
honestgamer honestgamer - April 20, 2009 (02:13 AM)
I enjoyed Amelie when it came out. I went and saw it at the theater where I worked, since it was free. I don't really remember anything about the movie now, except that I liked it a lot and I left with a smile. It's one I'd probably pick up if I saw it for a good price on Blu-Ray.

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