What You Need To Know:
AMELIE lasts too long and is significantly flawed by strong sexual immorality. Furthermore, Amélie’s destiny ultimately relies on mystical fate. However, the movie’s good-hearted, whimsical originality almost mitigates its moral shortcomings. Amélie’s quiet acts of kindness are underscored by the movie’s fantastical cinematic touches – statues come to life and the heroine literally, though momentarily, melts when she first comes close to Nino. These moments are as oddly moving and uplifting as they are amusing
(RoRo, Pa, B, L, V, SS, NN, AA, D, M) Romantic worldview with New Age & moral elements; one very mild obscenity (“crap”); depicted suicide, verbal abuse of handicapped character & physical slap of handicapped character; depicted & implied sex, foreplay, main character works in porn shop, sexual slang, sexual discussion, & several scenes in porn shop in which nude dancing & sex toys are briefly depicted; upper female nudity, several scenes of women in lingerie & nude dancing; frequent alcohol use; smoking; and, playful deceit, mild mystical elements & abuse of handicapped character.
News outlets recently reported that, despite an initial slump immediately after September 11, the film industry is one of the few markets still flourishing since the terrorist attacks on America. Americans are seeking solace and escape in entertainment, and one movie out there answers that need almost perfectly – the fanciful AMELIE.
AMELIE is definitely not your average French movie. Instead of dark, plodding, and cerebral, this movie is whimsical and gently quirky. The gamine Audrey Tautou, who has been compared most often to Audrey Hepburn, plays the title character, an introverted 23-year-old waitress. Amélie loves to anonymously fix others’ lives by doing secret favors or exacting playful revenge on behalf of the downtrodden. Yet, Amélie fears the messiness of real life and seldom strays far from her lonely apartment.
Longing for human intimacy, she eventually develops a crush on a man she doesn’t even know after she finds his photo album. The album is filled with anonymous, discarded pictures he’s collected from a Photomat machine at a Paris metro station. She tracks down the album’s owner, Nino, who’s played with understated simplicity by actor/writer/director Mathieu Kassovitz. (Regrettably, Nino happens to work as a clerk in a porn shop, but Amélie overcomes her initial disappointment in this flaw.) With a series of mysterious notes and pranks, she lures him on a sort of scavenger hunt to find her and his album. She eventually arrives at a crossroads: Should she take a risk at last and reveal her identity to him? Or should she maintain her safe, anonymous, yet lonely existence?
Along the way to her climactic decision, Amélie comes into contact with various outcasts and loners whose lives she brightens with her kindly, clandestine mischief. She spontaneously leads a blind man down the street and poetically describes the sights surrounding him. She secretly delivers whimsical videotapes to her invalid neighbor. She forges a contrite love note to a widow from her long-dead, adulterous husband. She plays pranks on the local shopkeeper to avenge his abuse of a mentally slow employee. Her quiet magic is underscored by the movie’s fantastical cinematic touches – statues come to life, pictures talk and the heroine literally, though momentarily, melts when she first comes close to Nino. These moments are as oddly moving and uplifting as they are amusing. The sprightly Ms. Tautou deftly makes Amélie a thoroughly lovable and poignant character.
AMELIE lasts too long and is significantly flawed by strong sexual immorality and nudity. Furthermore, Amélie’s destiny ultimately relies on mystical fate. However, the movie’s good-hearted, magical originality largely outweighs its moral shortcomings. If it had not been for its all too obvious flaws, this movie would have been an enchanting, delightful diversion.