French theatrical poster
|Directed by||Jean-Pierre Jeunet|
|Written by||Guillaume Laurant|
|Narrated by||André Dussollier|
|Music by||Yann Tiersen|
|Edited by||Hervé Schneid|
|Distributed by||UGC-Fox Distribution|
|Box office||$173.9 million|
Amélie (French: Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain; French pronunciation: [lə.fa.by.lø.dɛs.tɛ̃.da.me.li.puˈlɛ̃]); The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain) is a 2001 romantic comedy film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Written by Jeunet with Guillaume Laurant, the film is a whimsical depiction of contemporary Parisian life, set in Montmartre. It tells the story of a shy waitress, played by Audrey Tautou, who decides to change the lives of those around her for the better, while struggling with her own isolation. The film was a co-production between companies in France and Germany. Grossing over $33 million in limited theatrical release, it is still the highest-grossing French-language film released in the United States.
The film met with critical acclaim and was a major box-office success. Amélie won Best Film at the European Film Awards; it also won four César Awards (including Best Film and Best Director), two BAFTA Awards (including Best Original Screenplay), and was nominated for five Academy Awards. A Broadway adaptation is in development.
Amélie Poulain was raised by eccentric parents who — erroneously believing that she had a heart defect — prevented her from meeting other children. She was home schooled by her mother. She developed an active imagination and fantasy life to cope with her loneliness. After her mother is killed in a freak accident, her father's withdrawal from society worsens. Amélie eventually decides to leave home and becomes a waitress at Café des 2 Moulins in Montmartre, which is staffed and frequented by a collection of eccentrics. Spurning romantic relationships after a few disappointing efforts, she finds contentment in simple pleasures and letting her imagination roam free.
On 31 August 1997, Amélie is startled by the news of the death of Princess Diana, causing her to drop a plastic perfume-stopper which in turn dislodges a loose bathroom tile. Behind the tile she finds an old metal box of childhood memorabilia hidden by a boy who lived in her apartment decades earlier. She resolves to track down the boy and return the box to him, and promises herself that if she finds him and it makes him happy, she will devote her life to bringing happiness to others and helping others as much as she can.
She asks Mrs. Wells, the concierge, about the boy. Wells redirects her to the abusive greengrocer, Mr. Collignon, who redirects Amélie to his mother. Mrs. Collignon remembers the name "Dominique Bredoteau", but Amélie has no success finding the owner of the box. Amélie meets her reclusive neighbour, Raymond Dufayel, a man whose bones are as fragile as glass and an artist who repaints Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-Auguste Renoir every year. He remembers the boy also, but correctly recalls the name as "Bretodeau". Amélie quickly finds the man and surreptitiously passes him the box. Moved to tears by the discovery and the memories it holds, Bretodeau resolves to reconcile with his estranged daughter and the grandson he has never met. Amélie happily embarks on her new mission.
Amélie secretly executes complex schemes that affect the lives of those around her. She escorts a blind man to the Métro station, giving him a rich description of the street scenes he passes. She persuades her father to follow his dream of touring the world by stealing his garden gnome and having a flight attendant friend airmail pictures of it posing with landmarks from all over the world. She kindles a romance between a middle-aged co-worker and one of the customers in the bar. She convinces Mrs. Wells that the husband who abandoned her had sent her a final conciliatory love letter just before his accidental death years before. She avenges Lucien, Mr. Collignon's meek but good-natured assistant (who is the constant target of his abuse), by playing a number of practical jokes on Collignon, leaving him utterly exhausted and his ego deflated, while a delighted Lucien takes charge at the grocery stand.
While she is looking after others, Mr. Dufayel is observing her. He begins a conversation with her about his painting, a replica of Luncheon of the Boating Party. Although he has copied the same painting 20 times, he has never quite captured the look of the girl drinking a glass of water. They discuss the meaning of this character, and over several conversations Amélie begins projecting her loneliness on to the image. Dufayel recognizes this, and uses the girl in the painting to push Amélie to examine her attraction to a quirky young man who collects the discarded photographs of strangers from passport photo booths. When Amélie bumps into the young man a second time, she realizes she is falling in love with him. He accidentally drops a photo album in the street. Amélie retrieves it. She discovers his name is Nino Quincampoix, and she plays a cat-and-mouse game with him around Paris before returning his treasured album anonymously. After orchestrating a proper meeting at the 2 Moulins, she is too shy to approach him and tries to deny her identity. Her co-worker, concerned for Amélie's well-being, screens Nino for her; a café patron's comment about this misleads Amélie to believe she has lost Nino to the co-worker. It takes Dufayel's insight to give her the courage to pursue Nino, resulting in a romantic night together and the beginning of a relationship.
- André Dussollier as Narrator
- Audrey Tautou as Amélie Poulain
- Flora Guiet as young Amélie
- Mathieu Kassovitz as Nino Quincampoix
- Amaury Babault as young Nino
- Rufus as Raphaël Poulain, Amélie's father
- Serge Merlin as Raymond Dufayel, "The Glass Man"
- Lorella Cravotta as Amandine Poulain, Amélie's mother
- Clotilde Mollet as Gina, a fellow waitress
- Claire Maurier as Suzanne, the owner of Café des deux moulins
- Isabelle Nanty as Georgette, the resident hypochondriac
- Dominique Pinon as Joseph
- Artus de Penguern as Hipolito, the writer
- Yolande Moreau as Madeleine Wallace (Wells, in English subtitled version)
- Urbain Cancelier as Collignon, the grocer
- Jamel Debbouze as Lucien, the grocer's assistant
- Maurice Bénichou as Dominique Bretodeau
- Kevin Fernandes as young Dominique
- Michel Robin as Mr. Collignon
- Andrée Damant as Mrs. Collignon
- Claude Perron as Eva, Nino's colleague
- Armelle as Philomène, air hostess
- Ticky Holgado as Man in a photo
- Franck-Olivier Bonnet, Alain Floret, Jean-Pol Brissart, and Frédéric Mitterrand as Additional voices
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
In his DVD commentary, Jeunet explains that he originally wrote the role of Amélie for the English actress Emily Watson; in the original draft, Amélie's father was an Englishman living in London. However, Watson's French was not strong, and when she became unavailable to shoot the film, owing to a conflict with the filming of Gosford Park, Jeunet rewrote the screenplay for a French actress. Audrey Tautou was the first actress he auditioned having seen her on the poster for Venus Beauty Institute.
The filmmakers made use of computer-generated imagery and a digital intermediate. The studio scenes were filmed in the Coloneum Studio in Cologne (Germany). The film shares many of the themes in the plot with second half of the 1994 film Chungking Express.
The film was released in France, Belgium, and French-speaking western Switzerland in April 2001, with subsequent screenings at various film festivals followed by releases around the world. It received limited releases in North America, the United Kingdom, and Australasia later in 2001.
Cannes Film Festival selector Gilles Jacob described Amélie as "uninteresting", and therefore it was not screened at the festival, although the version he viewed was an early cut without music. The absence of Amélie at the festival caused something of a controversy because of the warm welcome by the French media and audience in contrast with the reaction of the selector.
The film received critical acclaim. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 89% of critics liked the film, giving it an average grade of 8.1/10, while its Metacritic score of 69 (indicating generally favorable reviews) has unusually high variance including five perfect scores of 100 and four scores of 40 or below.
Alan Morrison from Empire Online gave Amélie five stars and called it "one of the year’s best, with crossover potential along the lines of Cyrano De Bergerac and Il Postino. Given its quirky heart, it might well surpass them all."
Paul Tatara from CNN Reviewer praised Amélie 's playful nature. In his review, he wrote, "Its whimsical, free-ranging nature is often enchanting; the first hour, in particular, is brimming with amiable, sardonic laughs."
The film was attacked by critic Serge Kaganski of Les Inrockuptibles for an unrealistic and picturesque vision of a bygone French society with few ethnic minorities. Jeunet dismissed the criticism by pointing out that the photo collection contains pictures of people from numerous ethnic backgrounds, and that Jamel Debbouze, who plays Lucien, is of Moroccan descent.
Awards and nominations
- Best Art Direction – Aline Bonetto (art director), Marie-Laure Valla (set decorator) (lost to Moulin Rouge!)
- Best Cinematography – Bruno Delbonnel (lost to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring)
- Best Foreign Language Film – France (lost to No Man's Land)
- Best Original Screenplay – Guillaume Laurant, Jean-Pierre Jeunet (lost to Gosford Park)
- Best Sound – Vincent Arnardi, Guillaume Leriche, Jean Umansky (lost to Black Hawk Down)
In 2001, it won several awards at the European Film Awards, including the Best Film award. It also won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Crystal Globe Award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. In 2002, in France, it won the César Award for Best Film, Best Director, Best Music and Best Production Design. It was also awarded the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics's Prix Mélies (Best French Film) in the same year.
The film was selected by The New York Times as one of "The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made". The film placed No. 2 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema". Paste magazine ranked it second on its list of the 50 Best Movies of the Decade (2000–2009).
Entertainment Weekly named the film poster one of the best on its list of the top 25 film posters in the past 25 years. It also named Amélie setting up a wild goose chase for her beloved Nino all through Paris as No. 9 on its list of top 25 Romantic Gestures. In 2010, an online public poll by the American Cinematographer – the house journal of the American Society of Cinematographers – named Amélie the best shot film of the decade.
The soundtrack to Amélie was composed by Yann Tiersen.
On 23 August 2013, composer Dan Messe, one of the founders and members of the band Hem, confirmed speculation that he would be writing the score for a musical adaptation of Amelie to premiere on Broadway. He will be collaborating with Craig Lucas and Nathan Tysen. Messe also confirmed he would be composing all original music for the show and not using the Yann Tiersen score.
The film has no overall worldwide distributor, but Blu-ray Discs have been released in Canada and Australia. The first release occurred in Canada in September 2008 by TVA Films. This version did not contain any English subtitles and received criticisms regarding picture quality. In November 2009, an Australian release occurred. This time the version contained English subtitles and features no region coding. Momentum Pictures released a Blu-ray in the UK on 17 October 2011. The film is also available in HD on iTunes and other digital download services. It can also be found on Netflix as of 2013[update].
For the 2007 television show Pushing Daisies, a "quirky fairy tale", American Broadcasting Company (ABC) sought an Amélie feel, with the same chords of "whimsy and spirit and magic". Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller said Amélie is his favorite film. "All the things I love are represented in that movie", he said. "It's a movie that will make me cry based on kindness as opposed to sadness". The New York Times ' review of Pushing Daisies reported "the Amélie influence on Pushing Daisies is everywhere".
In the 2009 film Bunny and the Bull, the scenes set in the real world of Stephen's flat have the same red, green and gold feel of Amélie 's interiors. Additionally, the opening credits are similar to Delicatessen, an earlier film of Amélie 's director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
A species of frog was named Cochranella amelie. The scientist who named it said: "[T]his new species of glass frog is for Amélie, protagonist of the extraordinary movie Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain; a film where little details play an important role in the achievement of joie de vivre; like the important role that glass frogs and all amphibians and reptiles play in the health of our planet". The species was described in the scientific journal Zootaxa in an article entitled "An enigmatic new species of Glassfrog (Amphibia: Anura: Centrolenidae) from the Amazonian Andean slopes of Ecuador".
The girl's name Amelie soared in popularity after the release of the film.
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- "BBC News - Amelie musical to be made for Broadway". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-08-23. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
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- "Amelie Blu-ray (Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain) (2001)". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Amélie|
- Official website
- Amélie at the Internet Movie Database
- Amélie at Box Office Mojo
- Amélie at Rotten Tomatoes
- Amélie at Metacritic
- Jean-Pierre Jeunet discusses the film
- Filming locations at the Movieloci.com