Young Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) works in a Paris café, lives alone and helps people, surreptitiously. Whether it's secretly returning the childhood treasures of a middle aged man, to matchmaking for the lovelorn, Amélie gives fate a helping hand. When Nino (Matthieu Kassovitz) enters her world, her life takes a new and exciting turn.
 

4.5
Amelie will entrance everyone.

Amelie Poulain lives in Montmartre. She's an only child whose mother died young and whose father was convinced she was suffering from a heart ailment; so she never went to school and as a result lived a lonely life filled with fantasies. Now she works as a waitress in an old-style cafe and her life is changed forever on the day Princess Di is killed – when she discovers, hidden behind her bathroom wall, a box left there by a boy who once lived in the house. Amelie decides to try to track down the boy, now a man, and return his childhood toys. In her sweetly optimistic way she determines to help the people around her, to change their lives, while she herself maintains a solitary life...

Amelie or, to translate the original French title, The Fabulous Destiny Of Amelie Poulain, is both very original and rather old-fashioned. It's the most benign film to date from Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the gifted visual stylist who created some very dark films like Delicatessen, City Of Lost Children and his Hollywood thriller, Alien Resurrection. With a little help from digital enhancing, Jeunet recreates a Paris as it might once have been, without really going back into the past. He also creates a wonderful array of characters who need Amelie's encouragement, played by a gallery of fine actors, including Jeunet regular Dominique Pinon, as a lovesick patron of the cafe, Rufus, as Amelie's father and Matthieu Kassovitz, as a young man obsessed with collecting photos left behind at automatic booths.

Amelie was rejected by the Cannes film festival this year, but it was a mega-success in France, though some writers have attacked it for its Mary Poppins-ish depiction of a Paris where no people of colour are to be seen and old-fashioned attitudes reign. But with the talented Audrey Tautou in the leading role, Amelie is sheer delight, and will entrance everyone who sees it.

 

 

Watch 'Amelie'

Sunday 1 August, 12:15am on SBS / Streaming after broadcast at SBS On Demand

M
France, 2001
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
Language: French
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Dominique Pinon, Yolande Moreau

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