by Richard Holland
If law school resulted in no other tangible change to my life/personality it truly cast in stone my craving for escapist entertainment. I’ve seen crime scene pictures galore, I’ve done legal aid work, I work with BAS, I’ve seen enough horror. I like my entertainment light and happy, more or less. Also, I am a complete sucker for magical realism, I admit it, I’m out of the closet, you wanna make something of it. Any of you who got excited about Harry Potter, I dare you to scoff.
I saw this movie, shortly after it’s release on the airplane back from Paris. The friend we were visiting there, Adam Jolles (now the Chair of Art History at Florida State University), between spats with his dramatic, angry and lovely French girlfriend, raved about how much he enjoyed the movie and I must see it. So when I saw it available as an option on the flight, I figured why not.
What ensued was as over the top charming a movie as one could endure without slipping into diabetic shock. Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Written by Jeunet with Guillaume Laurant, I had seen Jeunet’s work before with the unique films Delicatessen and City of Lost Children (far darker films, but completely enjoyable, they are definitely on the “Brazil” pile).
The film’s protagonist is Amelie (Audrey Tautou doing an excellent personification of every straight art-boy’s dream girl) a shy, introverted waitress in Paris. Her simple life is set into upheaval by her fateful discovery of a treasure trove hidden in her apartment by a boy many years ago. After secretly returning the box to the now middle-aged man and unexpectedly changing his life, she has an epiphany and dedicates herself to elaborate attempts to aid others by giving fate a nudge (not all positive, she tortures a cruel grocer in a masterful way). At the same time she stumbles upon and finds her perfect match in a man who collects discarded photos from photo booths in Paris, who is just as much an odd-duck as she is. Wacky misadventures, misunderstandings, and tangents worthy of a Shakespeare comedy ensue.
If that wasn’t enough the Yann Tiersen soundtrack is amazing.
It is cute, yes, sappy, probably, but if you are feeling like the world is a dark evil place, no one gives a shit, everyone hates you, etc. this film can’t help but generating some happy feelings.