AMELIE is a love letter to the broken-hearted and dispossessed, a fable for the faithless, its bittersweet musings underpinned by a genuine affection for everyone who has strayed from the path they once hoped to walk. Jeunet and Laurant are laughing at mankind’s folly, but it’s a fond and knowing smile, and it tells us that no matter where we go, or how far we fall, we will never be entirely alone.
Amélie (Audrey Tautou) lives an unassuming life, with days spent waiting tables and solitary nights passed in a Parisian apartment. An accident of fate leads her to a box containing the boyhood treasures of a previous tenant, and the sight of these long-forgotten artefacts triggers a dormant capacity for altruistic experimentation. She embarks on a quest to restore the memories to their rightful owner, now in his forties, and the success of the undertaking prompts her to spend the rest of the film transforming the lives of people who never knew they needed it, while continuing her own search for love, philosophical enlightenment and the magic which bubbles beneath the surface of the everyday.
And you will feel the magic, for every minute of the film is infused with the absolute certainty that strange and wonderful occurrences pass us by without note. It’s an emotional rollercoaster ride, juxtaposing thought-provoking meditations on the simple pleasures of everyday existence with the suffering at the core of the human condition, looping us through the endless cycle of loss and renewal. There’s no assurances of a better tomorrow, but it subscribes to the notion that there is always a reason to go on living, for agents of change can be found in the most innocuous events.
At a time when I desperately needed to be reminded of the worth of the human race, AMELIE restored my faith, if only for the briefest of moments. It holds a mirror to us all, refilling our depleted reservoirs of compassion as we walk a mile in each other’s shoes, and if it seems a little fanciful that’s simply because we’re used to filtering our childlike wonder through the eyes of the person that child became. efilmcritic.com