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Amélie
cast: Audrey Tautot

director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

116 minutes (15) 2001
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Porl Broome
Amélie Poulain is a strange woman. As a child, taught at home by her mother, she played with imaginary friends and lived her life in an imaginary world. When her mother was killed in a tragic accident involving a suicidal Canadian, her obsessive father took over her upbringing. As an adult she still lives alone, and she watches life - fills in the blanks with her still-active imagination, but she's little more than a bystander lurking in the shadows, out-of-time and out-of-place. Until the night when news of an infamous car crash, on the streets of Paris, sets an incredible chain of events running. She finds a tin box in her bathroom - a box containing a child's treasure, hidden away decades earlier, and decides to return it to its rightful owner. Should the gift bring happiness to the recipient, then she will spend the rest of her life helping others to find love and laughter. If only her own happiness were as easy to arrange as that of others... In the end, it's left to some of those whose lives have been enriched by Amélie to point her in the right direction.
   Much has been said about Amélie, it has received most of the plaudits and attention it, and all of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's other French-language films, deserves. It is a magical story, told in an invigorating and spellbinding manner. As with Jeunet's Caro collaborations, Delicatessen and The City Of Lost Children, the film is visually sumptuous: deep greens, reds and yellow ochre are the order of the day, and the small details are arranged in a scarily obsessive manner. Everything about the way this film looks is perfect, from costumes and props, to facial expressions. The story is captivating and compelling, sad and funny, heart-warming yet dark. The acting is, as expected, exemplary. Time magazine cover star, Audrey Tautou, in the lead role, is eminently watchable - beautiful, quirky and 100 percent Amélie - and the supporting cast (including La Haine's Mathieu Kassovitz) is perfect (with a special mention to the ubiquitous Dominique Pinon, for once playing the bad guy). My one and only criticism - and the reason that I still rate Amélie behind Jeunet's first two films - is that the story drags its heels just a little too much reaching the conclusion, and could have done with losing maybe 10 minutes or so.
   Still, Amélie is in many ways Jeunet's breakthrough film - the damage done by Alien Resurrection is now well and truly behind him - and will hopefully help to point the movie world in general back towards a more magical arena. The only bad point about the amount of success and attention it has gathered, is the inevitable US remake 10 years down the line.
   This special edition DVD is brimming with extra features, making it well worth the outlay. The first disc still contains an excellent commentary from Jean Pierre Jeunet. The second disc contains a short making-of feature, a nice little monologue from Jeunet about all the problems and the little pieces of luck he had in making the film, in which he comes across as a very genuine and down-to-earth character. There's footage from a Q&A session during a press screening in Paris, which is very comical and worth watching for Jamel Debouze's little jokes at Jeunet's expense, and for Audrey Tautou's coyness. And then there's some candid screen tests from (among others) Tautou, behind the scenes photos, a couple of storyboard to screen sections, and some delightfully silly features - including one which is just a long reel of Tautou pulling silly faces and cracking up in front of camera. Top marks for an excellent double disc set.
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