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Young Amélie (Audrey Tautou) works in a Paris café, lives alone – and helps people, surreptitiously. For example, she secretly returns childhood treasures to a middle aged man; she frees a girlfriend from a troublesome lover and steers him into passion with another. When Nino (Matthieu Kassovitz) comes into her life, things change as they try to find each other.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
This is the filmmaker whose signature is a sequence of lovemaking which reverberates through the establishment and shakes the furniture and objects on its with good natured thumping. In Delicatessen, it was an apartment block; in Amélie it’s a café bar in Montmartre. Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a game and irreverent filmmaker, but he has a heart of romantic gold. He loves people, and if any of his characters get out of hand, there is retribution at hand. Always funny retribution.

But Amélie is not about that at all. That’s just one of the many side trips and sub-stories, incidentals and asides, in what is a film full of them. There is more business in the film than actual story, and you can search most of it for meaning in vain. Some of the recurring elements you may wish to interpret as metaphors for something include photographs, dreams and cats. Of course, apart from all that, it is as ever, a search for self and love. It is also more inventive and energetic than a dozen conveyor belt teen comedies from Hollywood studios aching for a buck.

There is a dozing gap in the middle (I looked at the clock) but then it picks up again, and Amélie steals our hearts. Audrey Tautou is unsettlingly reminiscent of a young Jean Simmons in many shots, and her performance is every bit as good, too. She acts with her eyes in a way many great golden age actresses do (Sophia Loren, Ingrid Bergman . . .) Don’t expect it to make too much sense in the straight, structured story way, and be ready for some filmmaking magic; this is a fairy story of sorts, a tale of a young woman told by idiots (in the nicest sense – of innocents). To enjoy it most, simply surrender to the fantasies and the tour de farce which stamps all of Jeunet’s work.

Review by Louise Keller:
Whimsical, fresh and joyous filmmaking, Amélie is a fabulous fable. Just like the perennial domino effect, from one single event comes a resulting stream of consciousness that changes everything. Time, coincidence, chance all play a part, but the very essence of the film is brand spanking new. There’s nothing like a little light hearted mystery to brush off life’s cobwebs. Sometimes all it needs is to plant a seed, or change something that is so familiar that we sit up and take notice.

The result? Joy, curiosity, amazement, melancholy and a totally different slant on the world. There’s a bizarre sense of the ridiculous. Take the garden gnome, for instance. Amélie’s father places it by his late wife’s shrine, and when it is stolen, is amazed to receive photographs of his beloved gnome from New York, Moscow and other recognisable cities around the world. And there’s a pay off - not only to this subplot, but to each of the mini plots that revolve around the fascinating characters.

With the exuberance of Audrey Hepburn, Audrey Tautou delights with her wide eyed wonder and mischievous gaze. She is innocent and guilty, well meaning and interfering all at once. Mathieu Kassovitz is terrific too, as is the entire cast.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s wonderful tale has an unusual structure and certainly doesn’t follow the rules. Set in beautiful Paris with her glorious and distinctive landmarks, The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie is as rich and satisfying as its music. It’s rich with complex layers of the human condition, and set in beautiful Paris, we are overwhelmed by the journey. But just as the thrust of the film shows that the smallest little things can make such an impact, the outcome is a sweet, uplifting, capricious journey that we are compelled to make.

Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain
Jeune fille timide, elle cultive un goût
Particulier pour les tout petits plaisirs:
Plonger la main au plus profont d'un sac
De grains, briser la croute des crèmes brulées
Avec le dos de la petite cuillère ou faire
Des ricochets sur le Canal Saint-Martin
Dans la nuit du 30 août 97, le déclic se produit:
Elle prend la décision de réparer les cafouillages
De la vie des autres.

Mais les cafouillages de la sienne de vie,
Qui van s'en occuper?

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Soundtrack review

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Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, Le

CAST: Audrey Tautou, Matthieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Yolande Moreau, Arthus de Penguern, Urbain Cabcellier, Dominique Pinon

DIRECTOR: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

PRODUCER: Claudie Ossard

SCRIPT: Guillaume Laurent & Jean-Pierre Jeunet


EDITOR: Herve Schneid ACE

MUSIC: Yann Tiersen


RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2001 (Advance previews from Dec 6)

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