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Amélie (2001)
Director: Jean Pierre Jeunet

review by Thomas Cropper

This film came a year late when all is said and done, because it was last year when the Oscars were in the 'lets be nice to foreigners' mode, whereas this year they were closer to 'lets pretend we're all not racists.' As a result, the 'black Oscars' were to make a criminal oversight of by far the year's greatest film; a small production from France named Amélie. Jeunet's last film had been much against type. Alien Resurrection was a disappointment, it is true, but it gave him a profile that ensured his next film would gain greater recognition in the mainstream.
   Amélie is the story of a girl who lives a hermetic life enjoying the simple pleasures. Her outlook is transformed when she stumbles upon a box full of boyhood toys stashed in the wall of her room. She sets out to track down the owner of the box. From then on, she decides that her life will be dedicated to improving the lives of other people. Love springs into her world when she sets eyes on a man every bit as eccentric as her. She sets him a series of challenges by which he is to win her love. He becomes captivated by his elusive admirer and plays along at every step.
   It is beautifully shot and skips along at a wonderfully merry tempo. From the opening narrative we are drawn into the film and enmeshed in Amélie's fantastic world. Jeunet's use of colour creates a gorgeous pastiche, one that reflects Paris as a dream world. Supporting the luxuriant tempo the dreamlike score created by Yan Tierson completes the surreal atmosphere. It swamps you in a warm glow of satisfaction, one that has hardbitten, cynical journalists leaving the screening with great big smiles splashed across their faces. I have never seen a film quite like it and neither, in all probability, will ever see one again. Once and for all, Jeunet has atoned for Alien Resurrection.
Amélie
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