Amélie (SE)/ B+, A-
Miramax/2001/129/ANA 2.35

    Amélie is one of those thoroughly enjoyable films that comes along perhaps only once every decade. The sheer joy with which writer/director Jean-Pierre Jeunet infuses his film with is certainly infectious. And what a great choice the wonderful Audrey Tautou is for the title role. Her open face with a hint of pixie behind the eyes is scrumptious. Tautou has a startlingly fresh presence. She has absolutely wonderful energy.
    Jeunet opens Amélie with a delicious short course montage of scenes depicting Amélie from birth to present. It's sparkles with imagination and sets the terrific fast-paced eccentric tone. Jeunet's slick and often off-kilter visual style lends itself perfectly to the material, adding a layer of delight. The opportunities for hyper-reality that he seeks out deliver capital entertainment, like the cartoon beating heart of our infatuated heroine. It's all a wonderful modern day fairy tale with a very different princess indeed!

Pondering the results of her deed. ©Miramax

    Amélie is a waitress in an oh-so-very charming restaurant. The film focuses on her special interaction with the people around her. The heart of the plot focuses on Amélie's discoveries about people and her propensity to create joy. When a photo booth mystery captures her imagination, everything drives her to piece together the mystery of the torn photographs, inevitably leading her to her won romantic quest. Jeunet takes a certain devilish delight in depicting the journey.
     Jeunet succeeds in building a very special world in which Amélie can exist as a natural presence. Amélie is about romance, optimism, finding the joy of living and sharing it. Jeunet works his supporting cast well. Mathieu Kassowitz works well as the gangly Nino, the object of Amélie's affection. Kassovitz's dry withdrawn style mixes perfectly with Tautou's more engaging presence.
     Outstanding production design and beautiful cinematography. Jeunet delivers a first-rate package from start to finish. The charming Paris street music that provides a dancing feel for Amélie adds to the overall joy, blending well with the visual style. About the only minor negative comment I have about Amélie is that perhaps there's a bit too much torture of Nino by Amélie. There's a repetitious sense about this long section of the film.
    Amélie is a candy-colored celebration on DVD. The modern fairy tale is enhanced by rich saturated primaries and a slightly warm overall wash. It's very sharp, the resolution is maxed. Black levels are creamy. The overall glow of the film comes through exceedingly well. The Dolby Digital 5:1 surround is delightfully open and Jeunet's use of sound is effectively transferred to DVD. English subtitles are easy to read and enjoy.
     Attractive slipcase packaging with a gatefold jacket for the two disc set. Disc one includes English and French commentaries by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.  Jeunet mentions pushing the green for the DVD and in retrospect feels he may have gone too far. So, for those who remember a difference between the theatrical look and the DVD, it may be intentional. Disc two includes  The Look of Amélie is a twelve minute short. The Fantasies of Audrey Tautou is a charming two minute compilation Tatou outtakes. There are screen tests for Tatou, Urbain Cancelier who plays the grocer and Yolande Moreau who is Amélie's concierge. A 24 minute English Q & A with director Jeunet that took place at a screening is also included. There's also a short additional Q & A with the cast and director in French. A one-minute montage of storyboard to film comparisons. A twenty minute conversation in French with Jeunet. Jeunet talks about his enthusiasm for DVD and commentaries, which is terrific support for the medium.


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