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98. EMPIRE MAGAZINE GREATEST: Amélie

January 9, 2018

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Screenplay: Guillaume Laurant
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Serge Merlin, Lorella Cravotta, Clotilde Mollet, Claire Maurier, Isabelle Nanty
Runtime: 123 Minutes

 

Original UK Release: 2001

 

★★★★★

 

Jean-Pierre Jeunet separates from the dank, rustic architecture of his former films for this spirited tale of a young Parisian girl’s whimsical life, and her attempts to better the lives of the people around her.

 

Set within an idealised vision of Paris, a place of societal calm and cultural tranquillity, this isn’t a film that is very heavily invested in the tragedy, significance or circumstance of real-world events. Rather, it is about the importance of the small visceral and emotional pleasures that we might find along the way in the incessant search for the self. It’s a celebration of the interactions we partake in daily which add to the larger whole that is our lives. In a brilliant moment following the breaking news of Princess Diana's death, the film's attention diverts almost immediately to something else spurred on through reaction.

 

Audrey Tautou is perfect as Amélie Poulain; like Audrey Hepburn, she channels so much natural charisma in the way she holds her form, her wry expressions, youthful splendour and delightful state of lasting innocence. The populated supporting cast of characters and performers put forward their best work as lives intertwine and cross over through Amélie's precocious tampering with fate.

 

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s filmmaking talents are at the peak of his ability here; the distinctive change of colour pallet, more naturalistic décor and physical environments gives the world an incredibly homely feeling of warmth and comfort. Through the use of Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography, the colour of fabrics, wallpapers and light exterior environments bring so much cheerfulness to the image. The manner of its structure is gorgeously composed by a remarkable and rhythmic method of cutting between images and frames to covey the highest sense of human connection possible through instinctive visual cues and markers.

 

All of which is accentuated by a legitimately gorgeous, sumptuously layered sound design that makes every crackle, crank, shatter and crunch of the world’s mechanisms and products feel impossibly comforting, while Yann Tiersen’s score reaches into the past of the city’s musical soundscape through contemporary methods of approach and perfect musical prompts

 

Amélie is one of the most optimistic films ever made; a beautiful, hilarious, warm and tender piece of sweet and timeless filmmaking.

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