Amelie ny times


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Amelie ny times

  1. 1. Movie Review - Amelie - FILM REVIEW; Little Miss Sunshine as Urban Sprite - 4/23/12 9:34 AM This movie has been designated a Critics Pick by the film reviewers of The Times. November 2, 2001 FILM REVIEW; Little Miss Sunshine as Urban Sprite By ELVIS MITCHELL Jean-Pierre Jeunets Amélie, a sugar-rush of a movie, has what could be called meticulous clutter, a placement of imagery that covers every square centimeter of the screen. Mr. Jeunets sense of humor gives the movie heart; his real affection for the medium can be seen in all the funny little curlicues and jottings around the action. Amélie offers Mr. Jeunet a chance to show some flair without the brittle chill of his previous films like Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children, in which his imagination and heartlessness combined for the film version of felonious assault. Amélie has a hypnotic sense of romance; its a fable filled with longing, with a heroine who constantly flirts with failure. Just because the movie has the reflexes of a predatory animal doesnt mean it lacks a heart. (Or an audience. The picture is one of the biggest hits ever in France and will probably do well in the United States before its probable Oscar nomination -- that is, if its American distributor, Miramax, has anything to say about it.) Mr. Jeunet has made his own Paris through sets and computer-generated art for Amélie. He and Guillaume Laurant, with whom he wrote the script, tell the story of Amélie (Audrey Tautou) from her conception through her adult life, which is filled with the kind of offhand cruelty normally found in the novels of John Irving and Kurt Vonnegut. Her parents are described as a neurotic and an iceberg, and part of Amélies charm is that she is preternaturally levelheaded and survives her youth with her dark, glowing eyes wide open. She has the innocent vitality of a silent-film star; with her helmet of gorgeous brunet hair, she is posed to suggest Louise Brooks from some angles. Mr. Jeunet directs his protagonist so that even when she is a child (played by Flora Guiet), each thought and impulse shines though her skin. (Ms. Tautou addresses the camera as if she were looking each viewer right in the eye; she has the cross-hairs focus of a movie star.) As a grown-up, Amélie, who works as a waitress, tinkers in the lives of her friends. She scampers around like a woodland sprite, laying out elaborate stunts and practical jokes as payback for those who get on the wrong side of her buddies. When she falls in love with Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz), she cant be direct and let him know how she feels. Instead, she pulls him into an elaborate courtship dance that turns life in Paris into a game of Twister with a treasure hunt added to the mix. Nino, mouth agape, trails after Amélie, still the mystery woman to him, as she leaves clues about herself everywhere. Mr. Jeunet soaks each frame with sepia and greens. The sepia indicates that Amélie takes place in a dreamscape Paris, and the wide-open streets come out of the French films of the 1930s, which already idealized France. The green Page 1 of 3
  2. 2. Movie Review - Amelie - FILM REVIEW; Little Miss Sunshine as Urban Sprite - 4/23/12 9:34 AM gives the picture a trippy atmosphere, as if it had been dunked in absinthe. As a conception, the movie feels so scrubbed that it is on the sterile side. And Mr. Kassovitzs presence underscores a pivotal deficit in Amélie. There are no people of color in this snow-globe version of Paris, and since Mr. Kassovitz is one of the few French directors to deal with racial tensions in his own work (the social drama Hate), the lack becomes impossible to ignore. Given that Mr. Jeunet used a black hero in Alien: Resurrection, he cant be blind to race. (Michael Hanekes Code Inconnu, due this month, is a hard-edged examination of racism in France, and a must.) In Amélie, the fastidious complex of flesh and fantasy is a dazzling achievement. It has the impact of Wired magazine in its earliest days, when every single page looked like a ransom note put together by a kidnapper who had just downed a six-pack of Mountain Dew. Mr. Jeunet is not the first French director to deal in pop-abstract terms; Louis Malles Zazie Dans le Métro (1959) was the first influential example of eye-catching zest and was the story of a strong-willed princess-type, a plot point Amélie shares. Jean-Jacques Beineixs Diva (1981) was also a stylized tour, a walk through a punk Paris that is now as quaint as Mr. Jeunets only-in-the-movies France. He painstakingly creates his urban vision with the same meticulousness that Amélies neighbor, the painter Dufayel (Serge Merlin), does stroke-for-stroke recreations of Renoir paintings. (Dominique Pinon, a Jeunet regular who plays the jealous-guy Joseph in Amélie, is the shaved- head punk on the Diva poster.) Perhaps after living under a studios demands for a fourth-in-the-series Alien sequel, Mr. Jeunet decided to build his own universe from the ground up. Maybe, too, after the violence -- spiritual and physical -- of his earlier films, he wanted his latest tale to glisten with optimism. This balletic mix of whimsy and fairy tale could potentially err on the side of self-infatuation, but Mr. Jeunet moves so fast that the movie never stops to ogle its beautiful reflection. Mr. Jeunet loves video stimulation. In a single scene, a television shows a man doing back flips while a friendly doggy runs in place on his stomach, an image replaced by the gospel whirlwind Sister Rosetta Tharpe, twanging her way through Up Above My Head. The films pacing is athletic, though the pulse of the narrative is gradually slowed. By the climax, the movie segues into a rumination on loss and the perils of being too playful. When Dufayel straightens Amélie out, we see it in a monologue on videotape. Here Mr. Jeunet uses video as a device to demonstrate how Amélie has kept the world at arms length, but the scene evokes Krapps Last Tape; in close-up, Dufayel resembles Samuel Beckett. By this point, the director brakes the action so that thought, and possibly regret, can filter through. The films original French title was Le Fabuleux Destin dAmélie Poulain, and Mr. Jeunet deflates the self-mocking pomposity of the title by the last third of the movie. Yet there is no denying that Amélie is, to paraphrase its title, fabulous. Amélie is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It includes cartoonish violence and rambunctious coupling. AMÉLIE Page 2 of 3
  3. 3. Movie Review - Amelie - FILM REVIEW; Little Miss Sunshine as Urban Sprite - 4/23/12 9:34 AM Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet; written (in French, with English subtitles) by Guillaume Laurant and Mr. Jeunet; director of photography, Bruno Delbonnel; edited by Hervé Schneid; music by Yann Tiersen; produced by Claudie Ossard; released by Miramax Zoë. Running time: 120 minutes. This film is rated R. WITH: Audrey Tautou (Amélie), Mathieu Kassovitz (Nino Quicampoix), Rufus (Raphael Poulain), Yolande Moreau (Madeleine Wallace), Arthus de Penguern (Hipolito), Urbain Cancellier (Collignon), Dominique Pinon (Joseph), Serge Merlin (Dufayel) and Flora Guiet (young Amélie). How to mow your Is motor oil leading Dont miss it: Star- lawn up to 40% your vehicle to an Spangled Sailabration faster, have more early grave? June 13-19 time for fun Provided by Royal Purple Provided by Visit Baltimore Provided by The Toro Company ads not by this site © 2012 The New York Times Company Privacy Your Ad Choices Terms of Service Terms of Sale Corrections RSS Help Contact Us Work for Us Advertise Page 3 of 3