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Am̩lie (2001) РDVD Review


Written by Guillaume Laurant, based on a story by Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Guillaume Laurant
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Serge Merlin, Rufus, André Dussollier


  • Running commentary by Jeunet
  • “The Look of Amélie” featurette
  • “Fantasies of Audrey Tautou”: outtakes
  • Q & A with director Jeunet, recorded live before an audience
  • Q & A with director Jeunet, Tautou, Kassovitz & Jamel Debbouze
  • Screen tests for Tautou, Urbain Cancelier & Yolande Moreau
  • Storyboard comparison for one scene
  • “An intimate chat” with Jeunet, specifically recorded for the DVD
  • “Home Movies”: inside the making of the film
  • TV spots & theatrical trailers
  • Cast & crew filmographies
  • Scrapbook for the garden gnome
  • Scrapbook with behind the scenes photos and poster concepts
  • Original language track in Parisian French

Released by: Miramax.
Region: 1
Rating: R.
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Own it.

Amélie Poulin (Tautou) is, despite being the owner of a pair of the most destructively adorable eyes in cinema in a long time, a fairly normal young woman. She has a distracted and distant father (Rufus) and works in a local restaurant. One day, while herself distracted by a sensational tragedy on television, she accidentally discovers a small tin box hidden in her apartment which belonged to a boy who has long since disappeared into adulthood. She reaches a fateful decision: she will track down the former boy, return the box, and based on the results will turn her life around. What follows is a campaign to change people’s lives, and it’s done with almost a faerie-like glee for justice and a profound attention to detail.

My exposure to the previous work of Jeunet is unfortunately limited to the cinematic waste of film stock known as Alien: Resurrection. But I can see now what Jeunet discusses on this disc: the amazing ability of Hollywood to completely hamstring the creative mind. The reason I say that is this film is atrociously wonderful. Jeunet maintains that the story of Amélie is his story, and the proof is right there: especially in the attention to detail. Be it the colors of the settings, the incredible tasteful use of special effects, or just the speed at which actions are filmed–it would be unfair to call the film a visual masterpiece, because that would be selling it woefully short. It’s a combination of the look of the film, the tremendously apt soundtrack from Yann Tiersen, brilliant writing (almost makes me want to learn French, it’s so good), and a cast that all get to shine in their own way. The standout of course, would have to be Tautou, who delivers a performance so seemingly effortless that it’s amazing how much she must be working behind the scenes. Although the supporting cast is all wonderful, as I’ve said, I must give credit to Urbain Cancelier, the cruel grocer, whose torments both outgoing and incoming are just wickedly dealt with.

Luckily, the DVD meets the challenge of how to compliment such a film. First of all, the running commentary from Jeunet (luckily for me, in English) is not only insightful and amusing, but it also serves as a platform for him to discuss his other films, especially the aforementioned Hollywood-induced misstep. Probably the next-coolest item on the totem pole would be the twenty minute discussion Jeunet gives, the “intimate chat” in which he reveals even more information about the origins of the concept for Amélie among myriad other topics.

Really, there are no bad items on the list of features. The screen tests are all nice to have for posterity, as are the “home movies” which give you glimpses into the process of creating the world of the film. It’s a little odd to have only one storyboard-to-scene comparison–but it begs the question of how many one needs normally. There’s even a scrapbook for the gnome’s worldwide journey–trust me, it makes sense in context.

Sure, there’s always more you could have. A commentary by the cast would be nice but–ah, well, there’s that language barrier thing. But for the most part, this is a worthy two-disc set, and I strongly recommend that everyone purchase it immediately. Even troglodytes who fear subtitled films will find evolving to greet this film worthwhile.

Originally published on Ver. 3 of the site, moved to Ver. 4 (WordPress) on 3/27/07.