With the exception of movies such as Pretty Woman, When Harry Met Sally and My Best Friend’s Wedding, romantic comedies have notoriously lacked spontaneity, dynamic characters and an engaging plot. Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie challenges the conventions of this failing genre and provides a magical film about life, love, and happiness, destined to capture the heart of every viewer.
In Paris, a long time setting for stories of love and romance, Amélie (Audrey Tautou), a naive young girl, misunderstood by her parents and admired by her colleagues, is exploring the world and all its funny moments. She finds pleasure in life’s quieter moments like skipping stones on the canal and running her fingers through grain.
For amusement and perhaps even more, Amélie enjoys well-meaning practical jokes on her co-workers at the cafe, her father and her neighbors. In the midst of one of her jokes, Amélie falls for a guy who spends his time working at a porn store and collecting discarded photos at a photo booth. They become lovers in the hands of faith and fate.
Although it is a foreign film, Amélie does not isolate the American audience. Everyone relates to stories about love and loss, joy and despair. And even better, the film unfolds in an exciting narrative structure. The story is told with so many styles; voice-over narration describes all the characters, segments are shown in black and white, and the film on the whole is full of fascinating imagery and allusions.
Unlike Jeunet’s previous films, Alien: Resurrection and City of Lost Children, Amélie features lighter themes and subject matter, but without sacrificing the director’s style. Jeunet reveals that a film about pleasure can be just as satisfying as one about pain.