Review by Michael Jacobson
Audrey Tautou, Matthieu Kassovitz
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 122 Minutes
Release Date: July 16, 2002
is Amelie…in 48 hours, her life is going to change forever.
But she doesn’t know it yet.”
is the kind
of film experience almost forgotten in this day and age…the kind of movie that
finds magic in simple pleasures, beauty in everything around, and doesn’t even
know the meaning of the word ‘cynical’.
It’s a whimsical dose of pure effervescence…its feet never touch the
ground, and neither do the audience’s.
Tautou is a real find as the title character, with her big, warm eyes and
mischievous grin. The film places
her birth as a significant event, as though “fabulous destiny” (part of the
original French title) had singled this one out. She grows up shy and imaginative, using her penchant for
fantasy as a way out of a mundane childhood.
an adult, she waitresses in a local café, still has trouble connecting with her
father, and seems surrounded by the type of imaginative, comical supporting cast
that will come in handy later on when she makes her life-changing discovery:
an old metal box filled with toys hidden away in her flat.
tracking down the now elderly owner and anonymously returning the box, Amelie
discovers her new life’s pleasure. She
will bring happiness to others. Soon,
the oddball and mismatched characters in her life become just the fodder she
needs to seemingly create magic out of thin air. She even discovers some for herself in the form of the
unusual Nino (Kassovitz), a man with an unusual hobby and a mystery that haunts
him. We know Amelie can bring
elusive joy to Nino…the question is, can she do for herself what she so
whimsically seems to be able to do for others?
about this picture shuns conventional thought and practice.
Director and co-writer Jean-Pierre Jeunet throws caution completely to
the wind. He never snickers at his
creations the way some more cowardly artists would.
He creates people and places of pure fantasy, then has the fortitude to
take them seriously. Amelie weaves
a spell the way few modern movies do…we are dared not to surrender to it.
take on Paris is as unreal as a painting, and all the better for it.
These characters couldn’t exist in our cold world.
They need this world of endless warmth and beauty in part to blossom into
full potential. But mostly, they
just need Amelie.
the hardest of hearts will be able to resist the charms of this wonderful girl
and this beautiful film, and I’ll dare say, they still won’t be able to
resist it entirely. This is the
kind of movie that taps into our still youthful exuberance and wakens it,
bringing it back to a time when laughter, joy, and love were more than just
possibilities…they were inevitables.
is a film
with a distinctive visual style, and this anamorphic transfer from Miramax
captures it beautifully. Colors are
rarely realistic…they aren’t meant to be.
They are unusually bright and warm, creating an artificial but beautiful
world for the story. This isn’t
the Paris of the 21st century; it’s the Paris of the classic MGM
musicals, and all the better for it. The
cornucopia of tones make this one of the busiest and most delightful helpings of
eye candy you’re bound to come across with your DVD player.
Think this is a romantic comedy with a run-of-the-mill soundtrack? Think again...this movie received an Oscar nomination for Best Sound, you know!
is a fantasy, and fantasies are created with sounds.
Expect the unexpected with this 5.1 mix…you get it.
Sequences I’d rather not give away keep both front and rear stages
active, and together they give the movie a wonderful audio ambience.
The subwoofer is also well used at strategic moments, and dialogue and
music clarity are top notch. Dynamic
range is strong, and the crossovers from side to side and front to back are
always smoothly mixed and balanced.
is a double disc set loaded with good extras.
Disc One features two commentary tracks by director Jeunet, but chances
are, you’ll only need one (one’s in English, one’s in French).
He speaks English quite well and is an absolute delight to listen to,
warning you at the beginning and the end that he might just be “spoiling the
magic” (hardly). Turns out,
he’s a DVD fan who couldn’t wait to own his own movie on disc, and really
enjoyed participating in it!
Two contains everything else. Some
of the featurettes are short, but all put together, they create a wonderful
portrait of the film. One piece
talks with Jeunet and his cinematographer about the look of the film.
“Fantasies of Audrey Tautou” is actually a short blooper reel for the
actress (cute stuff). There are two live Q&A sessions, one with Jeunet alone,
and one with him and his cast. There
is an “intimate chat” with the director as well, in which he largely
addresses the camera and speaks off the cuff.
disc also contains test footage of some of the actors, a scrapbook, a home movie
montage, talent files, storyboards, a scrapbook, plus a U.S. and French trailer
and numerous TV spots for both countries.