Posts Tagged ‘Audrey Tatou’

Following up: The marketing tie-in and the stalker in ‘Amélie’

September 25, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Sept. 25, 2014

I wanted to follow up on my essay about Amélie with two quick notes about the film.

One is that I experienced an unexpected jolt of recognition at the subplot involving the protagonist’s father. Amélie — minor spoiler ahead! — removes the garden gnome with which M. Poulain seems to be obsessed and gives it to a customer at her café who is a flight attendant.

Only we don’t actually see what Amélie does with it, because the movie diverts our attention. When Amélie walks into the central Paris train station with the gnome, she encounters the movie’s love interest for the second time. Nino Quincompoix chases a man out of the train station, and Amélie — carrying her father’s gnome — runs after him.

It wasn’t initially clear to me who Quincompoix was chasing or why. Later, it became apparent that he was running after a character known as the man with red shoes. (I won’t reveal who the man with red shoes is or why Quincompoix takes an interest in him.) The relevant event here is that, as part of his pursuit, the love interest hops on his motorbike, takes off after red-shoes-man’s car, and suddenly swerves to avoid an oncoming vehicle. That change in direction sends a photo album flying out of the bike’s side saddle and on to the ground, where Amélie — ornament still in her arms — comes upon it and picks it up. The very next scene is all about Nino’s photo album.

Here’s where the jolt of recognition comes in. Several minutes later, Amélie visits her father, who is mystified by envelopes that he’s been receiving in the mail. These envelopes contain no written messages — just photographs of the gnome standing in front of various international locales.

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Oddballs find love in Paris: The quirky charms of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ‘Amélie’

September 24, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Sept. 24, 2014

Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a French moviemaker with whose first English-language feature film was 1997’s lamentable Alien Resurrection, the fourth and presumably final entry in the pioneering science fiction and horror crossover series. Jeunet’s 2001 follow-up, Amélie, was about as different a movie from Resurrection as could possibly be imagined.

The eponymous protagonist of Amélie, a French-language comedy set in contemporary Paris, is a pretty young waitress enamored of whimsy and mischief. An only child, she grew up with an emotionally distant father and a highly neurotic mother (now deceased). The Poulains home-schooled Amélie because her father, a physician, mistakenly believed that she had a weak heart and was unable to bear the stress of having rough-and-tumble playmates. As an adult, she tends to keep to herself.

On the night of Princess Diana’s death, the adult Amélie (Audrey Tatou) accidentally discovers a cache of childhood mementos that was hidden in her apartment decades previously. When she returns the box to its owner, he is greatly moved, and Poulain resolves to do good deeds for those around her.

To that end, Poulain sets up a co-worker with a customer at her cafe, sends her father’s garden gnome on a world-wide journey, shares amusing video clips with her shut-in neighbor, and plays tricks to punish the local grocer for his habit of verbally abusing his slow-witted assistant.

Poulain also hesitantly flirts with Nino Quincompoix (Mathieu Kassovitz), a handsome, whimsical young man whom she sees rooting around the floors and garbage bins of automated photo booths throughout the city. She’s encouraged in this dalliance by her neighbor, Raymond Dufayel (Serge Merlin), the elderly shut-in, whose hobby is painting reproductions of Renoir masterpieces.

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