For those of you who have yet to see the brilliant French film, AMÉLIE, you are missing out on one great flick. Each time I have the pleasure of watching this movie, I feel like I have discovered something precious and special. There a lot of intricacies within this vibrant picture, but the heart of the story surrounds our title character, Amélie (Audrey Tautou), a quirky twenty-something waitress who has lead a simple and solitary life until one kind act propels her life in a direction that could lead to love.
From the start of AMÉLIE you will be drawn in by a unique narration that continues throughout the film. The narrator shares important information about our lead and supporting characters, and if you do not want to read the subtitles at the base of the screen, the various images and pictures that correspond with the narration are done so well you could get by just focusing on the screen all while having an understanding of what is going on in the picture.
With sharp, bold colors in every scene, the entire movie is a feast for the eyes. The imagination and careful attention to detail makes this movie feel extra special. The costuming and set designs are almost their own character, and I was tempted to redecorate my home after seeing the exaggerated colors used in Amélie’s apartment! Kudos to director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (ALIEN: RESURRECTION, DELICATESSEN) for writing and directing such a wonderful masterpiece. It is no surprise that this film received five Academy Award nominations in 2002, but it is a shame it did not take home any statues.
Praise must be made for Audrey Tautou’s performance as Amélie. Another actress could not have given Amélie the same spirit, whereas Tautou breathes life into this whimsical character. Her facial expressions exaggerate every emotion and not in an overdone cartoonish fashion. The emotions behind Tautou’s eyes add instant humanity to our dear lead character. I particularly like her protective nature of the grocery delivery boy and his uncompassionate employer, Mr. Collignon (Urbain Cancelier). Oh, the fabulous tricks and pranks she plays on this man!
The supporting cast is phenomenal as well! Mathieu Kassovitz‘s take on Amélie’s love interest, Nino Quincampoix, could not have been better. He plays the shy oddball to perfection, creating an endearing ‘bless his heart’ character. The fact that both Amélie and Nino are trying to solve the same mystery is quite great too. I love the friendship formed between Amélie and her neighbor, The Glass Man (Serge Merlin). They give each other strength and support and show one another not to be afraid of living and life. The other waitresses at the Two Windmills Café, where Amélie works, establish a nice personality balance between eccentric, hypochondriac and flirtatious.
Overall, AMÉLIE is a breath of fresh air. It is poetic and cinema fantasy rolled into a perfectly told story. From amazingly developed characters to fun visuals you should treat yourself to this delightful film. Go ahead, you deserve it.
Video (2.35:1): The bright, bold colors are extremely vibrant on this fantastic Blu-ray.
Audio (French 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio): Great audio, even for the moments where musings are uttered in a whisper.
Audio Commentary with Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet: The director provides some interesting insight and great details about decisions made throughout the filming process. You can hear his pride in this fabulous film he created. I really enjoyed this commentary (it is in English too).
The Look of AMÉLIE (12:48): This feature is in English, where Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet discusses his love for film and we learn more about the filmmaking process.
Fantasies of Audrey Tautou (2:07): Blooper reel of Audrey Tautou. Not very blooper-y.
Screen Tests (6:29): The title says it all. Three screen tests for Audrey Tautou (Amélie), Urbain Cancelier (Mr. Collignon), and Yolande Moreau (the landlady).
Q&A with Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (24:37): This feature is a question & answer session at a theater where the famed director answers questions from the audience. Some parts of this feature are hard to hear as the microphone moves as he is talking and gesturing.
Q&A with Director and Cast (5:55): This featurette is in French. Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz and other characters answer audience member’s questions. This segment is very discombobulated and shot at weird angle.
Storyboard Comparison (:58): A side by side look at the story boards director Jean-Pierre Jeunet created compared to the actual shots. Very detailed and almost exact.
An Intimate Chat with Jean-Pierre Jeunet (20:48): This featurette is in French. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet wanted to create a record of the filming process for AMÉLIE.
“Home Movies” Inside the Making of AMÉLIE (12:46): This feature is very odd and eccentric, similar to the characters we meet in AMÉLIE! We see everything from Audrey Tautou getting a haircut, casting for the photo booth, preparing the assorted sets, The Glass Man practicing his lines and more.
The AMÉLIE Scrapbook: Behind the scenes photos, French Poster concepts, storyboards and the Garden Gnome’s travels.