French Films III - Amelie (2001)

Country - France
Year - 2001
Duration - 122 mins
Language - French
Genre - Romance, Comedy

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Cross Cultural Cinema: Amélie (2001)

Amélie is perfect enough to be encapsulated in all way, shape and form under the word ‘beautiful.’ The story is beautiful, the characters are beautiful, the directing and surrealism are beautiful. Everything throughout the film maintains such a high standard of attractiveness that it creates a pristine vision of an archetypal Parisian lifestyle that we onlookers have so seldom experienced. Yes, some aspects seem unrealistic and slightly ridiculous, but the film is not about a portrayal of reality, but a symbolic representation of the beauty of life, and a look at the world from such a simplistic manner.

Here, we follow the unusual life of Amélie Poulain. A girl we see deprived of a public life from early on due to emotionally unstable parents, making way for a socially backward daughter. However, unlike the common recluse which usually grows from such an upbringing, Amelie is a breed of her own. A genuinely happy girl filled with care and love, with her only obvious downfall her inability to connect to those around her on a deep personal level, choosing to flee at first opportunity from any uncomfortable situation.

However, one day her life takes a dramatic change. A turn of events leads her to taking on a ‘goody two shoes’ role in her neighbourhood, attempting to fix the broken lives of those around her, and getting a kick out of it in the meantime. Unfortunately along the way she meets someone with a similar quirky approach to life as her own, and due to her intense shyness the only way she can get close to him is through an unorthodox manner which leaves we the observer smiling away.

The little intricacies that make Amélie what it is are wondrous in their ability to keep you smiling for over 2 hours. The way she approaches the situations are in some case so ludicrous, yet because of the exquisiteness of the film they are turned into moments of brilliance. The general atmosphere the film gives off sucks you in to Miss. Poulain’s life, and takes us into this dream world to experience something unique and different, yet for some reason feel such a strong connection with.

‘Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain’ literally translates to ‘The fabulous destiny of Amélie Poulain’ and it’s a destiny so engrossed in perfection that we can only watch on in awe. I know for those more accustom to the French culture that this somewhat stereotypical view of Parisian lifestyle is one of a formulaic nature, but this is film, and from the surreal way that the movie is produced, people should realise that this isn’t supposed to be a factual depiction, but rather a story of fairytale proportion. We all know life isn’t this perfect, but it’s nice to see what it would be like if it was, and it’s an idyllic view that without films like Amélie, we could only dream about.