Amélie of Montmartre is a whimsical French movie from 2001 that was nominated for the foreign film Academy Award. It follows a young girl as she grows up having only her imagination for a companion, and how she gradually makes it in the world. She vows to do a nice act, and it snowballs out of control, but all is well in the end. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet uses many of the same cinematic touches he employed so well in the brilliant Delicatessen in this, a much lighter film.
The Amélie in the title is Amélie Poulain, played with charming insouciance by Audrey Tautou. The film opens showing her as a 6 year old girl, dealing with two very strange parents, odd neighbors and quirky friends. She is shown to be a very capable meddler, even at this young age, as the voice over tells us about a neighbor who yelled at her, and she exacted revenge by tweaking the antennae to his TV in the middle of an important soccer match! She deals with a neurotic mother and a cold fish father, who keep her away from other people. Her only companionship is a suicidal goldfish and her over active imagination.
Soon, she escapes to the big city and becomes a waitress in a little bistro. She finds a trifle in her apartment and decides on the spot to do only good deeds from then on. She hooks up a regular in the bistro with the cigarette lady, returns lost toys, tries to mend broken hearts and to get her widowed father (you don't want to know what happened to Mom!) to get out more. Some plans work out okay, others don't, as she also slowly becomes enmeshed with a relationship of her own that she has a harder time fixing than the problems of others. In the end, it all ends up glorious, certainly not because of her efforts; in fact, it may be despite them!
The movie is pretty light fare, made truly remarkable by the Juenet vision with all its wild touches, like x-rays of the heart, zooming cameras, sudden jumps into a macrocosmic world. It also has a dark comedic edge which keeps it from being too sweet, although the bite that made Delicatessen so memorable is almost completely missing here. Tatung, however, is cute as a button and played the part perfectly.
The DVD played very well, with the subtitles keeping up and very easy to read. There are lots of extras on the DVD, but I didn't get a chance to check any of them out. A definite must-rent, no doubt about it.