“Amelie,” a fantastic, French world of wonder

@slug:[email protected]:@deck:@by:”Am?lie,” aka en francais “Le fabuleux destin d’Am?lie Poulain”, is a new release (at least to American audiences) by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Jeunet is previously best known for his movies (these of course are the American translations) “Delicatessen” and “City of the Lost Children.” However, that will all change with “Am?lie.” Not because what’s new is better, but simply because “Am?lie” is a masterpiece of cinematography.

“Am?lie,” like “Deli” and “City,” is a unique and intriguing story of individuals on the outskirts of society, where fantastic things happen and are taken, perhaps not as the norm, but simply with less salt.

Jeunet, through his unique perspective and vision, creates a world where small things are imbued with great magic. Which seems completely possibly as “Am?lie” inhabits the byways and backways of the city of lights, Paris. It’s a world where gnomes travel around the world and photographs talk; a startlingly visual world where reality is enmeshed in fantasy and fantasy with reality.

Audrey Tautou, whose eyes are big enough, deep enough to drown in, plays Am?lie Poulain who is born to odd, anal and analgesic parents. In quick flashes Juenet gives each family member’s historical dossier of likes and dislikes. Which draws the viewer quickly, efficiently into their bizarre little life and world.

Am?lie Poulain, needless to say, doesn’t have quiet a normal childhood. But somehow, even after her mother’s tragically humorous demise, she eventually grows into a quirky young woman working at a cafe/bistro inhabited by a gaggle of “characters” in Paris.

Providentially on the day Lady Diana dies Am?lie discovers an old box of childhood trinkets and tokens from one of the previous residents. After great lengths she anonymously returns the box to the man who was once the boy. So moved by the man’s response Am?lie has an epiphany, she shall do good wherever, whenever she can. A true superhero.

And for a while she does do good here, there, everywhere. But eventually she begins to mess with a very dangerous poison – love. She even does good here too.

However, one day she runs into “him,” Nino Quincampoix (Mathieu Kassovitz), the love of her life. When this happens we discover Am?lie has spent so much time and effort helping others she’s incapable of helping herself.

Through one attempt after another she tries to break through the barriers she’s placed in front of herself, yet to no avail. Finally …

Just go see the movie. Trust me.

Ultimately, “Am?lie,” is about trust and being comfortable enough with yourself to help yourself, even when it comes to that twisted, beguiling drug called Love.

And Jeunet tells the story so eloquently, vividly and touchingly it makes you want to cry and laugh at the same time.

“Am?lie” is presently playing at the Fox Tower Cinema.