Worth A Look: 10.87%
Pretty Bad: 1.74%
Total Crap: 5.22%
8 reviews, 182 user ratings
by The Ultimate Dancing Machine
Recently I saw “Amelie,” this year’s foreign film sensation, from France. Returning home, I switched on my computer and wrote—nothing. Nada. Total blank. So I decided to seek supernatural aid. Constructing a makeshift bonfire with my unwatched came-with-the-DVD-player copy of “Stepmom” and several consecutive years’ worth of Leonard Maltin Film Guides, I called upon the chthonic powers to bring forth an able critic from the Other Side to help compose my review.Lo, the gates of Hell promptly opened, and from the fiery portal came—Pauline Kael? Gene Siskel? Nope—David Manning, the ersatz critic who, you will recall, was responsible for made-up film quotes for movies like A Knight's Tale. But, hey, beggars can’t be choosers.
"Best movie of the millennium--so far"
It went something like this:
MANNING: Uh, look, I’m not supposed to be here. The boss is screening Monsieur Verdoux, and attendance is mandatory.
ME: Mr. Manning, I have called you here for a very important matter. I’ve just seen Amelie, the movie from France, and—
MANNING: Got it. “The thrill ride of the summer movie season.”
ME: That’s not going to do it. This is really a special movie, I think, and it deserves thoughtful analysis. You see [flips through notes], it’s the latest movie from Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who did Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children, and—ahem—Alien: Resurrection.
MANNING: Alien: Resurrection! I loooovvvved—
ME: It has to do with his lonely French girl named Amelie, who has an epiphany one day when she finds this old tin box hidden away in a secret panel near the floor of her bathroom—
MANNING: This is the Alien: Resurrection guy?
ME: --and suddenly, she wants to find the owner of the box, whoever it may be, and make his life complete by giving back to him this childhood memento. This leads to another epiphany: She wants to improve the lives of all these hapless souls she keeps meeting. But wait, that doesn’t really capture it. It’s not a plot-driven movie.
MANNING: Wait, you saw the movie?
ME: It’s basically this extremely weird, brain-screwing Gallic fairy tale, replete with magic realist moments—you know, inanimate objects suddenly coming to life and so forth. The first twenty minutes or so are brilliant. You’ve got this heavy-breathing French narrator relating the life of Amelie from birth to the present day, and it’s just pure genius—one inspired moment after another.
MANNING: “Amelie had me at ‘hello’!”
ME: And it has this incredibly frenetic, colorful visual style—imagine Jacques Demy doing Fight Club. Camera zooming in, tilting up, fast cutting, all these goofy FX shots. And these primary-color sets…
MANNING: So it has words on the bottom of the screen?
ME: Well, yeah. But what I really have to capture in my review is the pure comic energy of the movie. Kind of like Run, Lola, Run, which apparently even the French dug. There’s more gags than a Zucker brothers movie. I mean, one of my favorite bits is when Amelie is standing on this rooftop overlooking the city--
MANNING: Rooftops. Very Hitchcockian.
ME: --and the heavy-breathing French narrator says something like, “Now Amelie wonders how many couples are achieving orgasm at this moment.” You get this quick montage of people screwing, and Amelie turns to the camera and goes: “Fifteen.”
MANNING: So Amelie’s a hottie?
ME: Well, sure… oh, thanks for reminding me: The actress playing Amelie is a relative newcomer named Audrey Tautou. She’s wonderful, a French version of Bjork. She’s so alive on the screen that she nearly compromises the whole premise of the film—I mean, it’s hard to see her as a shy loner who can’t get a date. Of course, perhaps I should confess my weakness for wide-eyed ingénues. These things tend to interfere with one’s objectivity.
MANNING: Oh, I totally agree. I think...
ME: What I have to decide in my review is whether Jeunet maintains control of his comic fantasia. To be honest, there’s so much happening that I can’t tell if he tied all the plot threads. But if he doesn’t, I think it’s okay, anyhow. This isn’t a Hollywood picture. Europeans shouldn’t be required to worship Syd Field.
ME: And, finally, it made me feel warm and tingly all over.
ME: Can you help?
MANNING: “The biggest action extravaganza since Pearl Harbor!”David Manning was returned to Hell, where bad Chaplin plays for all eternity.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5594&reviewer=223
originally posted: 11/03/01 22:29:29