Fred and Yasser’s Film Club: Week Eleven, Part One – ‘Amelie’ (2001)

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The Premise
Film fanatics and friends
 Fred Sullivan and Yasser Akram are on a mission to watch 25 of one another’s favourite movies. Each week they will watch one movie each and then get together to discuss what they have seen. There has been a couple of disagreements, lot’s of mutual appreciation and only one outright argument… so far.

After both of last week’s films got full marks, can the run continue this week? First up, is Yasser’s pick for Fred and we are back off to France.

You can read the entires from previous week by checking out the archives on the left of the screen.

To have a look at what Fred has picked so far, click here.

Likewise, for Yasser’s choices, click here.

Yasser: So bro – ‘Amelie‘ time

Fred: Oui. Tres bien. Comment? Pour quoi la mal de mere et c’est un Platini, ma crepes suzette?

YA: … English please.

FS: (laughs)

‘Amelie’ (Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain)
2001 – France
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Serge Merlin, Rufus, Jamel Debbouze

FS: Last week you said when you saw ‘Back to the Future‘ on my list you were taken aback. I felt the same when I saw ‘Amelie’ on yours. It doesn’t feel like the kind of film you’d go for, so why did you pick it?

YA: You’ve seen it! You know why! It’s an enchanting, quirky, funny, and a very good tale. Granted, it’s not a film I’d watch, but I went through a period of watching nowt but foreign films, and out of all of the ones I saw this one stood out more than all of them.

FS: It is a nice little movie

YA: I know people that won’t watch a foreign film

FS: So do I. They are dickheads

YA: I avoid them when I’m REALLY tired and can’t be arsed concentrating, but other than that I’m happy to watch them

FS: I just think, knowing your tastes fairly well now, that it sits very awkwardly in your favourites, which is great – diversity in art is everything – but I’m still surprised that this stood out for you. What sets it apart from all those foreign films you watched?

YA: It surprised me how much I liked this film. I’d heard it was a good film but I didn’t have a clue what it was about. The French movies I’d enjoyed watching were produced and/ or directed by Luc Besson, but this just floored me with how good it was. It’s quirky, charming, funny…

FS: Yes. It’s like a modern fairy tale.

YA: There’s something here for everyone. Take away the sex shop scenes and I think kids would love it too

FS: (laughs)

YA: I love the cinematography. It’s bright and vibrant

FS: I have to say that when I watched ‘Breathless‘ it made me love Paris for being cool. ‘Amelie’ was different in that it showed the beauty of Paris. It was stunningly shot. The locations were all postcard-perfect. It’s a shame that Jean-Pierre Jeunet felt the need to put in a few flashy trick shots.

YA: Trick shots?

FS: Yes. Blurry, shaky camera shots; the odd, gradual-zoom when Amelie was making the fake letter… things like that. The cinematography was so good he didn’t need them

YA: I think it helped. It’s like trying to show her imagination

FS: That’s different. I didn’t mind that. Anyway, it’s a minor point. Cinematography, locations, use of Montmartre – three BIG plusses

YA: I was smiling after rewatching it

FS: It is a happy, happy film. It made me feel good

YA: Let’s talk about the lead, Audrey Tautou

FS: What can I say? When Sacre Coeur is only the second most wonderful thing in the movie, you know you have a star on your hands. She’s absolutely marvellous.

YA: Sacre Coeur? Who?

FS: (laughs) It’s the basilica in the background when she’s returning the photo album.

YA: Oh (laughs)

FS: It’s a beautiful and unique place and Audrey Tautou is a unique talent

YA: She encompasses beauty and charm in a very humble, modest, unique manner

FS: That’s just it. She’s not the most beautiful woman but there is something absolutely beautiful and magnetic about her. I’ve seen a few of her films and I’ve never been able to take my eyes off her

YA: You can see why Chanel is using her for their adverts.

FS: This part is very good for her as Amelie is supposed to be pretty, but still has to blend in to a crowd

YA: I think that’s one of the clever things about her being in this role. She stands out and she does have an everyday life, as in she goes to the store and she works as a barista. But in a sense she’s very much a loner too. She isn’t exactly the conventional girl

FS: (laughs) Nope! She certainly isn’t, but Tautou walks the tightrope well. Her character is odd but she’s not totally out there in a really over the top way

YA: Exactly. What I thought was clever was her childhood was narrated also which built up the reason for her quirky originality

FS: To be honest I didn’t like the beginning. I’d have turned it off after five minutes if I’d known nothing about it and just stumbled across it on TV

YA: (laughs) Good thing you couldn’t turn it off

YA: What did you think of the story, the people and the sub-plots?

FS: The story is very good. It was unrelentingly upbeat which was nice and there was lots of great lines. I liked most of the supporting characters and their little sub-plots

YA: I love the sub-plots. The way the other characters and their circumstances interact with Amelie and how she involves herself. The most charming is stealing the garden gnome and sending it all over the world

FS: The ‘Glass Man’ (Serge Merlin) was good, and the women from the cafe, particularly Isabelle Nanty

YA: The guy with the voice recorder (Dominique Pinon) is funny

FS: Yeah, he’s a nob. Played very well as you do sit there thinking ‘God! What a nob’. There was one sub-plot they could have lost

YA: Go on…?

FS: The grocer (Urbain Cancelier) and Lucien (Jamel Debbouze) – pretty pointless and I didn’t even think Cancelier deserved all his punishments

YA: Oh? I was in stitches when she messed with him, mixing his toothpaste with foot cream and all that, and it takes a lot for me to laugh out loud

FS: The whole film is quite like a Roald Dahl story, which is a good thing. The grocer should have been written as meaner – just a bit – but then the acting was good so it didn’t spoil the film

YA: Was there anything else you didn’t like?

FS: Not much. it could have been a bit shorter. And whilst the scriptwriter and director did a good job keeping the characters quite real, there were times where it strayed over the line and revelled in its ‘oddness’ a bit too much. I’m not a big Tim Burton fan, for instance, as I find his films so self-consciously odd. ‘Amelie’ wasn’t like that, except for a few moments early on where it crossed that line

YA: The early parts were like one of Dahl’s stories, going back to what you said earlier

FS: Yeah, there were parts that were a bit too ‘wacky’. It’s not a movie for kids so you can be more subtle.

YA: Any other bad things?

FS: No, none. Do you think there was anything that could have been improved?

YA: I think it’s a perfect movie

FS: Wow! Your other 14 must be AMAZING!

YA: (laughs)

FS: My last question is what did you think of the two male leads – Mathieu Kassovitz and Serge Merlin?

YA: In a way, Merlin was the male equivalent of Amelie. He was darker, but also a loner and an observer. He has a good heart, even though he’s cynical at times

FS: He was almost a glimpse of Amelie’s future if she doesn’t learn to embrace the outside world. His frailty is physical and her’s is emotional, but she is headed towards the same hermit’s existence. Merlin is very good in it

YA: I really enjoyed Kassovitz’s performance. He is Amelie’s quirky, imaginative equal

FS: I wasn’t bowled over by him, but as you said about William Holden in ‘Sunset Boulevard‘, he was an ordinary guy and that is what was required

YA: The scene in the ghost train is really special. Everything else that followed was magically romantic and mysterious

FS: Yes, this very intimate ritual of courtship is conducted in such a public way. That’s very clever as to have them conduct a romance on a one-to-one level would be impossible to believe

YA: Sum up man. Rate that fucker

FS: Paris – perhaps only New York and Rome can rival it for the title of greatest cinematic city. Lots of wonderful movies have been set there, yet it’s rarely looked as fabulous as it does in ‘Amelie’. I think the main word to describe it would be ‘charming’. It’s warm and vibrant. Audrey Tautou is wonderful. She’s like a marriage of silent comedy and Audrey Hepburn which fits the adult fairy tale story perfectly. It stays on the right side of ‘wacky’ most of the time and the supporting cast are memorable for the right reasons. I really enjoyed it, but it didn’t grab me in the way a really great film does. It was funny but I never laughed. It was romantic, but I never thought Amelie and Nino (Kassovitz) wouldn’t get together. I think it’s got to be an 8/10.

YA: AN 8! Injustice!

FS: Hardly!

YA: You’re killing me

FS: It’s a good score!

Later this week, Yasser gives his opinion on ‘The Sting’


4 thoughts on “Fred and Yasser’s Film Club: Week Eleven, Part One – ‘Amelie’ (2001)

    […] Amelie (Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain) […]

    […] I’m worried. When I gave ‘Amelie‘ an eight you reacted like I’d said it was a terrible film, but this really is a […]

    […] ‘Amelie‘ would go up to […]

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