Le Fableaux Destin d’Amelie Poulain
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “Amelie” is one of the most popular modern french films. It’s main theme seems to respond to a wide variety of young and old audiences. When asked about Jeunet himself, this audience cannot name any other film of his that they know of.
I consider myself to be a fan of Jeunet’s work, his visual style is attractive and original. His first movies “Delicatessen” and “La cite des enfants perdus” remain on my list of favourites.
I do not however, even though it is widely considered as a masterpiece, like “Amelie”. Let me explain my reasons.
“Amelie” is centred around a sensitive young woman, who seems to be socially retarded but still manages to find love. Her weird mannerisms are the heart and soul of the movie. The whole movie relies on her, relies on her binding with the audience. This connection, caring for the main character, cannot be felt. Or at least I cannot feel it.
The reason for this is, that Jeunet tries to explain the reason for Amelie’s behaviour during the film. There are multiple flashbacks to Amelie’s childhood and a few extra story lines for Amelie to show her true self. Amelie even has her own theme music. I normally like these story devices and in a less character driven movie they might work, but in “Amelie” these only help to further distance oneself from the world of Amelie Poulain. At the end of the movie one still feels disconnected from her and this feeling even stays with me after multiple viewings solely designated to understanding the Character of Amelie.
“Amelie” is the first Jeunet movie to truly take place in the present world. In his other works, the viewers believe can easily be suspended by presenting a strange and unfamiliar world. A world in which anything seems possible.
“Amelie” takes place in our world. We know the limits of this world, what is possible and what is impossible. Some films have successfully combined the real with the unreal, such as Brunuel’s “La charme discret de la bourgeoisie”, but most movies fail at the attempt. And although the French are very skilled at producing surrealist films, Jeunet for once fails.
My final point against “Amelie” is a rather personal one. My dislike for the movie is ultimately strengthened by the amount of fan support it has created. Many common movie goers consider it to be an astonishing and original film. Why people insist on calling “Amelie” this, although it is in my opinion Jeunet’s least original work, I cannot understand.
One of the reasons why “Amelie” is given this much credit, is that people are not familiar with Jeunet’s previous work, or any other french surrealist work. Another reason could be, that people do not look behind the adorable story and the pretty music, they choose to look at the film, without getting to involved.
I don’t hate “Amelie”, I even think it’s a pretty good movie. But what I don’t understand, is why “Amelie” is still so popular among non-French audiences. There are far better french movies and even better movies on the same subject.
Maybe it’s the marketing behind “Amelie”, maybe it’s the famous soundtrack. But it can’t be the movie itself. The movie has far too many flaws to be named a classic.