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The French have been known to be a very dramatic people. “[They] are glad to die for love…”, says Satine from this summer’s “Moulin Rouge”. It is this sense of poetic romanticism that Jeunet captures in “Amelie”. It is a film of pure magic and a true testament to the French’s romantic outlook on life.

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The film opens with our introduction to little Amelie, growing up in a dysfunctional home. With a father who was emotionally distant and a mother who was emotionally unbalanced, Amelie kept mostly to herself with only her imagination to keep her company. Now that Amelie (Audrey Tautou) is all grown up, she decides to fill the void in her life by helping others find happiness, whether it be through love, rekindling memories of one’s past or helping a gnome travel around the world. Amelie is there to save the day.

However, she soon discovers that her good deeds alone will not complete her. Amelie needs to help herself, by finding what will make Amelie truly happy in life…her true love.

“Amelie” is one of those quirky European films that tries so hard to be different both in story and structure, and fortunately it works to its benefit. Just like Jeunet’s other films (“Delicatessen” and “The City of the Lost Children”), “Amelie” has a not-of-this-world feel to it. Although not as bizarre as the other mentioned films, “Amelie” is set in a realistic world with a twist of outlandishness.

The film is brimming with colorful personalities, ranging from a lonesome hypochondriac to a breakable recluse. However, it is Amelie that anchors the entire film together. With her alluring smile and admirable altruistic endeavors, it is very difficult not to like her. She exudes such warmth and beauty, making the film even more gratifying. Combined with the director’s unique and often humorous filmmaking style, “Amelie” is a sure charmer. No wonder it became a big hit in France and is doing wonderful business here in the United States.

My only qualm about “Amelie” is that it loses some of its steam midway, but that’s a minor quibble. Jeunet has crafted a truly magical film bursting with humanity and romance. It has a lock at getting an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, and being the crowd-pleaser that is, “Amelie” has a very good chance of winning.

31/2 out of 5

Review by Mazzyboi

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