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
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
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
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
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
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Dominique Pinon,