#74: Amélie (2001)

When and how did I watch this?

November 26th, 2016, on Amazon Instant Video.

Had I seen this film already?

Nope.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

This is a film I’ve been eyeing on the list for a long time — the name alone made me curious, along with its sort of tantalizing movie poster image.  From the start, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

What do I know about it now?

Well, this is what I get for having high expectations.  For starters, this is supposed to be a comedy, and while there were certainly funny moments, they were few and often irrelevant to what was going on.  This feels easily classified as something of a “pay it forward” theme with spectacular cinematography and a cute leading lady.  What really sticks out for me in this film is its ability to encapsulate simple human tics — at the start, the characters are introduced simply by what they like and what they don’t like. It provides a deeper level of understanding, rather than just using them as a means to an end.  In fact, there is no real means to an end — Amelie, the conflicted introvert she is, stumbles upon a life-changing discovery, spontaneously interacts with her peers, mostly at her job that is constantly in the doldrums and stagnant, and affects their lives in meaningful ways that no one ever imagined.  It’s a fun idea, but ultimately proves to be an aimless story lacking in substance beyond the “feelies” level. It was sometimes funny, often intentionally weird, and generally entertaining, but that’s about it.

What are some themes in the film?

Fate, the power of suggestion/influence, second chances, the power of environment/past

Did this affect me personally?

Audrey Tautou is cute as Amelie, but that’s about it for me.

Why is this ranked #74?

This is mysterious to me.  I was waiting for the film to turn a corner and “shock” me, as just about every film at this rank has done, but beyond some nearly psychedelic sequences or the “awww” moment at the conclusion, I could see nothing in particular the viewer might find appealing or long-lasting in their memory.  Perhaps it’s a cultural element that went over my head, and perhaps the average person rating it was from outside the U.S. The film swept the French movie awards, garnered tons of attention overseas, and received a handful of Oscar nominations, but I don’t see it.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She wasn’t paying tons of attention to this one.

Would I watch it again?

Nah.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Perhaps others might get swept up into the whimsy of it all. There’s a likelihood I missed something, so it’s probably worth a watch.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

I don’t think so.  It’s not that I didn’t “get it”, but it was a film of happenstance and accidents that can easily get jumbled up, and I think it made for a weak screenplay. Greatness (at least, at this point) in cinema requires profundity, something unnerving, perhaps something controversial, and at least one big breathtaking moment.  The human element is important as well.  Amelie had the human part, which was a lot of fun, but for me, it missed everything else.

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