Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Dominique Pinon Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

When I decided that I was going to review movies about love for this site, the only thing that I knew for sure was that Amélie would definitely be on the list. Over the last ten years, Amélie has been one of the films by which all others have been compared, romantic or not. When my wife and I were married, it was the music from this film that proceeded “you may kiss the bride”. So when I tell you that Amélie means a lot to me, I promise I am being sincere.

The film revolves around Amélie Poulain who, after spending most of her childhood alone, has grown up to be a very solitary woman with an imagination that seems to be always dialed to eleven. One day Amélie discovers of hidden box full of a child’s odd and ends in her apartment.  When she realizes the box must have belonged to a previous tenant, Amélie decides to track the man down and return it to him. Upon seeing the reaction of the man when he opens his once treasure chest, Amélie decides that she will devote her life to helping people.

The above synopsis hardly does this film justice.  Beyond this story about a woman helping people, there are themes and ideas that will strike at the heart of most people. Almost every character in the movie is introduced with little vignettes in which we the viewer become privy to the most mundane things that each character hates, and the simple pleasures that bring them each unexplainable joy.  It is the idea of simple pleasures that not only introduces us to the cast of characters, but also connects them to each other and the world at large.

With several of our characters, we are also given brief insights into their childhoods. While this facet of the films may be minor, it is perhaps my favorite. It is weird what we remember from being a child. Moments that seem so inconsequential can stay with us longer than we can comprehend, and the rush of emotion that comes when remembered can be overwhelming. In watching these memories, we become sadly aware that the years have only served to magnify the characters hopes and fears, their personal tragedies, and their desires to find someone who understands them.

Amélie is a fairy-tale. You need to be aware of that notion before you begin your viewing. I always feel like most romantic films are extraordinary reflections of real life. Amélie on the other hand, is a story, not in the world we know, but in a world as we wish it could be. The colors are rich and velvety. The music is soft and sweet. No, Amélie is not something that could exist in the real world, but only in the amazing world of cinema. I cannot tell you how many times I have vehemently recommended this film to friends and strangers. It’s a movie about magic and mystery and garden gnomes and love…above all love. And after you watch it you will find that Amélie, like love, is meant to be shared with others.

Written By Drew Martin