Amelie [DVD] [2001]

Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amelie could have been marketed as a simple love story, but this would be missing a huge part of its appeal. It is in fact only the second half of the movie where romance begins to blossom, and even then it is in an unconventional way. With its use of special effects to express the main character's internal emotions, this could also have been mistaken for a French version of Ally McBeal; however, unlike Ally "woe is me for I cannot find a man" McBeal, Amelie is not distressed by the lack of men in her life, in fact the whole idea of sex seems to amuse her no end. Basic pleasures such as cracking the top of a Crème Brule offer her all the sensual satisfaction she needs and her existence in the "Paris of Dreams" is the stuff of fairy-tales. Indeed, this cinematic treat must have worked wonders for the Paris tourist board; Jeunet's beautiful interpretation of Parisian life includes all the vibrant colours you would expect from the director of Delicatessen. But Amelie is much more than a simple "feelgood" movie. The pixie woman herself is a shining symbol for our times. Set at the time of Princess Diana's death, Amelie is struck with a plan to offer goodness back to the world--to become the Mother Teresa of France. The film never offers a motive for this do-gooding--like all great martyrs Amelie simply is and does as she pleases to please others. She demands no thanks for her offering of love, simply hiding in the shadows and gaining the warm glow of satisfaction from the knowledge that she has managed to change someone's life. Her selflessness is a breath of fresh air in a dog-eat-dog world where we ignore our neighbour's troubles, and each other's loneliness. Featuring a strong supporting cast who play fully rounded characters, as well as the beautiful imagery and typical French humour which borders on the black, Amelie will leave the viewer feeling like the happiest person alive. On the DVD: Disappointingly low on features for such a well-loved release, this disc has one treasurable special feature: a commentary (in English) by the enigmatic Jean-Pierre Jeunet which is pure joy (it's also refreshing to hear an accent other than American--a rarity for the DVD format). The disc comes with a choice of Dolby Digital or DTS sound adding to the enchantment of the piece; the anamorphic widescreen print enhances the rich colours so loved by Jeunet.--Nikki Disney

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