The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain
Initially I thought of putting the review in the PB recommend section. But this movie deserves more than a few random praises. I watched it a couple of years back when I was surfing channels randomly and the narration caught my attention. It is one of those movies which even if you watch for a few seconds; you will sit through for the remaining part. The detailing is par excellence, the narration fast paced, story telling mesmerizing and the cinematography so unique, with a quaint retro visual style, colours, sound and special effects all juxtaposed beautifully, that it’s an experience worth having.
The narration starts with a description of the coincidences marking the birth of Amélie.
On September 3rd 1973, at 6:28pm and 32 seconds, a bluebottle fly capable of 14,670 wing beats a minute landed on Rue St Vincent, Montmartre. At the same moment, on a restaurant terrace nearby, the wind magically made two glasses dance unseen on a tablecloth. Meanwhile, in a 5th-floor flat, 28 Avenue Trudaine, Paris 9, returning from his best friend’s funeral, Eugène Colère erased his name from his address book. At the same moment, a sperm with one X chromosome, belonging to Raphaël Poulain, made a dash for an egg in his wife Amandine. Nine months later, Amélie Poulain was born.
Amelie is a young French waitress who would “rather imagine herself relating to an absent person than build relationships with those around her”. Having a loveless childhood, she relies of her imagination and simple pleasures of life, like dipping her hand into sacks of grain, cracking crème brûlée with a teaspoon, skipping stones across the canal, and trying to guess how many couples in Paris are having an orgasm at one moment.
(Narrator: Amélie still seeks solitude. She amuses herself with silly questions about the world below, such as “How many people are having an orgasm right now?”
[scenes of various orgasms taking place]
Her life changes when she hears about the death of Princess Diana. Bitten by the humanitarian hug, she has a strong urge to help mankind. She goes around silently straightening people’s messy lives, promoting happiness, arranging romance between her miserable co- worker and a nutty customer.
In between Amelie is forced to examine her own life as she is attracted to a stranger. The narration captures her growing impatience as she is trying to decide whether to pursue or hide from life.
Narrator: Nino is late. Amelie can only see two explanations. 1 – he didn’t get the photo. 2 – before he could assemble it, a gang of bank robbers took him hostage. The cops gave chase. They got away… but he caused a crash. When he came to, he’d lost his memory. An ex-con picked him up, mistook him for a fugitive, and shipped him to Istanbul. There he met some Afghan raiders who too him to steal some Russian warheads. But their truck hit a mine in Tajikistan. He survived, took to the hills, and became a Mujaheddin. Amelie refuses to get upset for a guy who’ll eat borscht all his life in a hat like a tea cozy.
Watch the movie for the wonderful script, great use of colour ( directed by Jean Pierre Jeunet of Delicatessen and The City of lost Children fame ) , great humour, and of course the wonderful characterization of Amelie by Audrey Tautou .