Amelie (2001)

or Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain,

 

Region : 2
Length : 116m
Sound : Dolby 5.1,  DTS 5.1
Language : French - Subtitles : English
Ratio : 2.35:1 Enhanced
Extras : Directors Commentary

 

 

 

Cast (in credits order)

Audrey Tautou.... Amélie Poulain
Mathieu Kassovitz  .... Nino Quincampoix
Rufus  .... Raphaël Poulain, Amélie’s Father
Yolande Moreau  .... Madeleine Wallace, Concierge
Artus de Penguern  .... Hipolito, The Writer
Urbain Cancelier  .... Collignon, The Grocer
Dominique Pinon  .... Joseph
Maurice Bénichou  .... Bretodeau, The Box Man
Claude Perron  .... Eva, The Strip Teaser
Michel Robin  .... Mr. Collignon
Isabelle Nanty  .... Georgette
Claire Maurier  .... Suzanne
Clotilde Mollet  .... Gina
Serge Merlin  .... Raymond Dufayel
Jamel Debbouze  .... Lucien
Lorella Cravotta  .... Amandine
Poulain Armelle  .... Philomène
Flora Guiet  .... Amélie (6 Years Old)
Amaury Babault  .... Nino (As a Child)
Jean Darie  .... The Blind Man
Ticky Holgado  .... Man in photo (who describes Amelie to Nino)
André Dussollier  .... Narrator (voice)

Directed by...Jean-Pierre Jeunet

 Writing credits (in credits order)
Guillaume Laurant (story) & Jean-Pierre Jeunet (story)
Guillaume Laurant (screenplay)
Guillaume Laurant (dialogue)
Produced by
Jean-Marc Deschamps.... producer
Claudie Ossard.... executive producer
Original music by…Yann Tiersen
Cinematography by…Bruno Delbonnel
Film Editing by…Hervé Schneid
Casting by…Pierre-Jacques Bénichou   Valerie Espagne
Production Design by…Aline Bonetto
Art Direction by…Volker Schäfer
Set Decoration by…Marie-Laure Valla
Costume Design by…Madeline Fontaine   Emma Lebail
Makeup Department
Véronique Boitout.... hair stylist
John Nollet .... key hair stylist
Nathalie Tissier .... key makeup artist
Production Management
Nicolas Davy.... unit manager
Jean-Marc Deschamps.... production manager
Eric Duchéne.... unit manager
Alain Mougenot.... unit production manager

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Pascal Roy .... assistant director
Christophe Vassort .... first assistant director

Nominated for 6 Oscars, winner of 2 Bafta's (nominated for seven more) “Amelie” (or Le Fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulain) is one of those rare commodities in film these days, a charming delightful story of innocence. “Amelie” has become the most commercially successful French film since Cyrano de Bergerac, and is an enjoyable, beautifully made and occasionally thrillingly original piece of work.  The story itself is simple. “Amelie” (Tautou) is a somewhat lonely young woman whose early life has been one of escape into fantasy because of her father’s emotional isolation and then her mother’s death by a suicidal tourist. Working as a waitress in a Monmartre café, she encounters the limping owner Suzanne (Marier), the hypochondriac tobacconist Georgette (Nanty), the ‘jealous guy’ Joseph (Pinon) and the frustrated writer (Artus de Penguern). However, due to an incident in her apartment when she learns of Princess Diana’s death, she finds a mysterious box of personal effects. Amelie decides to reunite them with their owner, and if it is appreciated she will do other good deeds. And what, exactly, is Nino Quincampoix (Kassovitz) doing with the old photographs from Metro photo-booths?   And who is the person who’s torn up photos are found near all the booths?

Jeunet enlivens the plot with an array of stylistic tricks, including outrageous fantasy scenes, camera effects and hilariously bizarre narrative detours, such as Amelies’ fantasy of what, exactly, might have caused Nino’s lateness at a rendezvous.

The script rises to the occasion of this insane verve, with minor characters’ likes and dislikes being described in short, surreal scenes throughout.

Yann Tiersen’s jauntily score works wonders at managing to use the accordion in a surprisingly fresh and non-clichéd fashion. The film is consistently enjoyable, engaging, surprising and funny – in fact the narrative use of the central character remained me of the eponymous Jacques Tati and his M Hulot – as well as being a persuasive argument against French films being little more than bored intellectuals discussing Life, The Universe, And Everything (to which they never get to the correct answer – 42).

Amelie herself is appropriately charming, winsome and sympathetic. It’s a given from the outset that Amelie will indeed transform the lives of those she comes into contact with (with one amusing exception), just as it’s obligatory that she and Nino will fall in love through their exploration of mutual quirks. An Americanised remake of the film (and such a horror has been mooted) would almost certainly reduce “Amelie” to little more than another Meg Ryan/ Lisa Kudrow airhead, and it is to Jeunet’s credit that his direction supersedes the predictable plot with some genuine moments of magic and joy.  

The performances are all excellent, with Tautou now something of a superstar in France because of her charmingly offbeat performance; she has the rare ability to be very attractive and somewhat odd-looking at the same time, one that comes in incredibly useful for a girl who, we are informed by the stern-sounding narrator early on does not have a boyfriend- ‘she tried once or twice but the results were a letdown’.  Kassovitz meanwhile continues his move towards international stardom with his charming performance as the romantic lead.  The rest of the supporting cast are all fun, with many of them very well known in Continental Cinema especially Jeunet regular Pinon, who apparently expanded a tiny and insignificant role into one of the comic highlights of the piece.

This is film is vastly superior to the majority of films released, and should be compulsory viewing for American directors who want to make romantic comedies.

One of the film’s many pleasures is the vibrantly beautiful colour scheme used throughout, with a computer-enhanced Paris looking absolutely glorious throughout, if far too attractively to be true. Therefore, any DVD presentation of the film would demand high-quality picture presentation, which is provided stunningly here. Colours are crisp, clear and strong throughout, and there are no noticeable imperfections in Momentum’s transfer, which does the difficult job of making the film look appreciably better than it did in the cinema.  

French Dolby and DTS soundtracks are both provided, (Jeunet has made it clear he will not agree to an English dub of the film) thankfully with English subtitles for those of a less than bilingual nature. Both are exceptionally clear, with the score and dialogue coming through incredibly well, and intelligent use being made of surround effects throughout – the DTS is of cause fuller and more vibrant, but if your system does not do DTS then the Dolby 5.1 is still very good.  

On this British version of the film (the copy write is most insistent that it is not sold anywhere else) the commentary is the sole extra and Jeunet does and excellent job in describing the joys and problems of making the film although the absence of even a trailer makes this a rather lacklustre set of extras.  

The 2 disc Special Edition version of the film contains the same extras as the French version, but for whatever reason Momentum delayed the release of the 2 disc set until 3 months after the single disc version, and as I never seem to revisit the extra disc (although I would like to see the extras) I will stick to the film itself.

For information the French 2-disc SE contains, amongst other goodies, a commentary by Jeunet, various outtakes, making-of features, interviews and odds and ends.

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