Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulin

(2001)
   Film. Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulin tells the fictional story of the childhood and young adulthood of its eponymous heroine, Amélie (Audrey Tautou). Amélie's mother homeschools her because she is misdiagnosed with a heart condition. The "heart condition" is merely the fluttering of her heart when her father, a doctor, finally touches her. As a result, Amélie is cloistered from the outside world and has little contact with her parents. She therefore retreats into her imagination.
   Amélie's life changes as a result of the announcement of the death of Princess Diana. It is not the princess's death that produces the change, however, but her discovery of a child's hidden box of toys and photos she finds after she drops a bottle upon hearing the news. Amélie manages to find the owner of the box, who is reunited with his childhood treasures. She then decides to help her neighbors and coworkers find happiness. She also becomes fascinated with a man named Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz), but Amélie is unable to bring herself close to him until the film's conclusion.
   A number of critics have commented on Jeunet's technological manipulation of images in producing the Parisian landscapes presented in the film. The monuments, subways, and Montmartre cafés are all uniquely pleasing to the eye in a way that is almost unreal. The city is devoid of traffic or graffiti, and even the mendicants in the city seem to be in high spirits. Jeunet has expressed his admiration for the images of Paris in the 1940s and '50s, and the film suggests nostalgia for an earlier time. Jeunet's title echoes that of Sacha Guitry's films Le Destin fabuleux de Désirée Clary (1942) as well as Claude Autant-Lara's Occupe-toi d'Amélie (1949). One could also consider Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulin as a late example of the cinéma du look, one that similarly employs brilliant colors (especially the matching colors of characters' outfits with their surroundings), advertising techniques, and stories of youthful romance. It is perhaps worth noting that Dominique Pinon, who plays the character Joseph, also played the role of Le Curé in Jean-Jacques Beineix's landmark look film, Diva (1981).
   Although Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulin is a light romance it bears certain similarities to François Truffaut's Les 400 coups (1959). Amélie's alienation from her parents could be compared to Antoine Doinel's isolation, and the settings of the two films are similar. The character of Suzanne in the film is played by Claire Maurier, the same actress who interpreted the role of Antoine's mother in Les 400 coups. Just as Antoine seeks pleasure in the cinema, Amélie substitutes interpersonal communication with fantasy and television. Just as Amélie's father is fixated on his missing gnome, Antoine's father is preoccupied with his lost Michelin Guide. Despite the similarities, however, the films have starkly different conclusions. After her life is changed by the discovery of someone else's hidden childhood treasures, Amélie reunites families, successfully plays cupid to lonely customers of Les Deux Moulins, and provides an ailing painter's link to the outside world. Finally, Amélie engages in her own romance with a man who has previously been obsessed with discarded photos. Jeunet's film is, of course, far more romantic and optimistic than Truffaut's, and although Jeunet's film, like Truffaut's, was shot on location, the images in the film are polished and enhanced.
   Despite some critical reactions to the film's artificial rendering of Paris, Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulin was a triumph for French cinema. It sold over 8 million tickets in France, went on to become an international blockbuster, and was among the top-selling films in Great Britain and one of the top-performing international films in the United States. It won Best Film and Best Director at the César Awards and made Tatou an international star. It also marked the return to France of Jeunet, who had directed the American film Alien: Resurrection (1997) a few years before.

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulin — (2001)    Film. Jean Pierre Jeunet s Le fabuleux destin d Amélie Poulin tells the fictional story of the childhood and young adulthood of its eponymous heroine, Amélie (Audrey Tautou). Amélie s mother homeschools her because she is misdiagnosed… …   Guide to cinema

  • Pouliche — Poulain Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom.  Pour les articles homophones, voir Poulin et Poullain …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Poulinage — Poulain Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom.  Pour les articles homophones, voir Poulin et Poullain …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Poulain (homonymie) — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom.  Pour les articles homophones, voir Poulin et Poullain. Sur les autres projets Wikimedia  …   Wikipédia en Français

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