Monday, January 14, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 71



'Amélie' re-released for Oscar run

By Amanda Mahmoudi
Daily Cougar Staff

Since its inception, cinema has been classified as an elitist art form. Visions of woeful anguish, plots saturated with political innuendo, and
subtitles have succeeded in alienating the average American moviegoer.

It is common knowledge, after all, that movies are meant only to entertain and are specifically forbidden to incite any thought.

In a rather cunning experiment, Amélie (Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain) takes cinema to a level long-forgotten by many: human emotion.

French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (City of Lost Children, Delicatessen) made a modern narrated fairy tale, full of innocent wonder and
sensual imagery.

One would think that any 23-year-old living in Paris would have far too many distractions to spend much time alone. Of course, that is what one
would think before meeting Amélie Poulain.

Having spent most of her childhood isolated from society, Amélie has had to find her own way to develop integrity, sensitivity, and humor --
qualities most people take for granted. Once old enough to leave the nest of her restrictive parents, Amélie set out for Paris.

During the day, she worked as a waitress in a small cafe. In the evening, she nurtured her vivid imagination in her cozy apartment. She
acquainted herself with neighbors and local surroundings. She was quite satisfied with her comfortable, albeit simple, life.

As always, something has to happen to disrupt the happy medium. While performing her toilette, Amélie, portrayed magnificently by newcomer
Audrey Tautou, discovers a small tin box hidden in the wall of her bathroom. The box is filled with tiny trinkets and toys, apparently packed by a
young boy in the 1950s.

Amélie sets out to reunite the young boy (now a middle-aged man) with his tiny treasures. Taking a fanatical approach to the situation, she
makes herself a promise: if she actually finds the man, and everything works out, she will be a "do-gooder" forever.

And so the race begins to do as many good deeds as possible, ranging from helping a blind man across the street to match-making. She even
tackles well-deserved revenge.

Throughout all the experiences, Amélie manages to forget one insignificant detail: herself.

Can taking pleasure from others' happiness be enough? One of her neighbors, an elderly yet feisty recluse, attempts to convince her otherwise.

Channeling her feelings through a Renoir painting, Amélie confides that she could in fact be in love. She also mentions that she is currently
developing a strategy to meet her match.

Every detail of this film is absolutely appealing: the rich colors, the music and the performances. Though the plot is intricate without being
overwhelming, this basic aspect is probably the most compelling: the risk of falling in love, of wanting something.

This risk entails the actual acknowledgment of one's desires and emotions, in other words, of one's existence. Everyone has dreams which
prescribe not only their actions, but also the outcome of situations.

Should those dreams ever be denied, anything less than collapse would be reprehensible. How do people advance in life without hope? Of
course, what is the purpose of having dreams, if not to pursue their realization?

Herein lies the dichotomy of this film: it is wholly entertaining, eliciting a range of sensibilities, and thoroughly thought-provoking. Perhaps this
trend will inspire a cinema nouveau which transcends age, gender and language barriers. Was that not the intended purpose of filmmaking
from the start?

Nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Picture, Amélie is on its second run in small theaters throughout the country.


5 out of 5 stars

Rated R

Starring: Audrey Tautou, Dominique Pinon, Mathieu Kassovitz


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