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Amelie

Released in 2001, Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain (The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain), or Amélie, as it is known in the English-speaking world, is a quirky French romantic comedy, or a modern fairy tale, starring Audrey Tautou. more...

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It draws on the attractions of the touristic areas of Paris (Montmartre), in a somewhat idealized depiction of contemporary Parisian life.

The film is also known for its creative use of computer-generated imagery and a digital intermediate. Amélie was nominated for five Academy awards and was nominated or awarded by every major film association.

The film was originally released in France in April, 2001. It was released in Britain in October of that year, and in the USA in November. The film's American distributor is Miramax.

Alternate titles

In English-speaking countries, the film was first released as Amélie from Montmartre. However, this rather tongue-twisting title was rarely used in publicity, and the film became known simply as Amélie.

Cast and crew

Co-written with Guillaume Laurant by its director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the film stars:

  • Audrey Tautou - Amélie Poulain
  • Mathieu Kassovitz - Nino Quincampoix
  • Rufus - Raphaël Poulain, Amélie's father
  • Yolande Moreau - Madeleine Wallace, the concierge
  • Arthus de Penguern - Hipolito, the writer
  • Urbain Cancelier - Collignon, the grocer
  • Jamel Debbouze - Lucien
  • Dominique Pinon - Joseph
  • Isabelle Nanty - Georgette

Synopsis

Amélie is the story of a girl who grows up isolated from other children. Her mother dies when she is young. Her father, a doctor, never hugs her. He only touches her for her monthly checkup, and this rare thrill causes her heart to race. As a result, her father believes she has a heart condition and keeps her away from other children while she grows up. Left to amuse herself, she develops an unusually active imagination.

Amélie grows up and becomes a waitress in a small Montmartre café run by a former circus performer. By age 22, life for Amélie is simple. She enjoys small pleasures like cracking crème brûlées with a teaspoon, going for walks in the Paris sunshine observing people, skipping stones across St. Martin's Canal, trying to guess how many people are having an orgasm at one moment ("Fifteen!", as she tells the camera), and letting her imagination roam free. One day, behind a loose bathroom tile she finds an old metal box of childhood memorabilia hidden by a boy who lived in her apartment decades past. She resolves to track down the now-grownup man who put it there and return it to him. If she finds him and it makes him glad, she will devote her life to goodness; if not, too bad.

After a bit of detective work she tracks him down and places the box in a phone booth. When he passes by, she rings the number to lure him into the booth. He opens the box and has an epiphany as long-forgotten childhood memories come flooding back. She trails him to a nearby bar and observes him but does not reveal herself. When she sees the positive effect she had on him, she resolves from that moment on to do good in the life of other people, including her father, her co-workers, the concierge of her building, and Lucien, the boy who works at the neighborhood vegetable stand.

But while she's looking after others, who's looking after Amélie?

She befriends a recluse painter in her building, who teaches her to do things for her own happiness as well as others'. She repairs relationships, and even starts one of her own with the mysterious man who collects the discarded photographs of strangers. She eventually gains his love by the most delightfully roundabout methods imaginable, and still manages to give peace of mind and happiness to her neighbors.

Criticism

The film was a critical and commercial success, but it was attacked by critics such as Serge Kaganski of les Inrockuptibles for its depiction of a largely unrealistic and picturesque vision of contemporary French society, a postcard universe of a bygone France with few people from ethnic minorities — some kind of latent lepénisme. Paris is an ethnically diverse city, and there is next to Montmartre an area (Barbès-Rochechouart) that includes many black residents, none of whom are visible in the film. If the director was trying to create an idyllic vision of a perfect Paris, the critics argued, he seemed to think that it was necessary to remove all black people from the scene in order to do so.

Read more at Wikipedia.org


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