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Nov 18, 2002

Daah, I heard that!

Let me start out by saying that I despise most French films that make it to North America. More often than not, I find them so unbelievably self-important that they can't even be pretentious, because the inherent pretension they're aiming for makes the notion of pretension laughably cliche and unpretentious.

Anyway, I was flipping through channels about a week ago and noticed Amelie on Starz. It was about half over, and I thought "I might as well find out why every 'smart' girl I have dated over the past couple years has owned this movie." Hell, I bought it for an ex-girlfriend, not even knowing what it was.

So I watched.

Initially, I thought "Jesus, they even have the cliched French music playing. Could this be any more trite?" I quickly realized that was the point. This isn't France. This is the idea of France. I get it!

The next thing I noticed was the camerawork. "Gorgeous" doesn't begin to describe it. One of the nicest aspects I noticed was that it wasn't even trying to be so beautiful. It wasn't obvious that the director was saying "Well, I don't have much going for me, so I'll pretty it up and hope nobody notices." because that's not what he was doing at all.

Story? If you take a cynical "I majored in lit" point of view, it isn't anything special. The implementation is, though. Telling a boy-meets-girl or "Pay It Forward" type of story is a cakewalk, and you can almost always see the linear story line in the first five minutes. With Amelie, it just wasn't obvious.

As soon as the movie was over, I grabbed my keys and wallet, got in my car and went to Meijer (kind of like a Super Wal-Mart in the midwest). It was about 3 a.m., and I knew they had it. That's how much I liked it.

After watching it in its entirety, I watched it with the commentary. Then I watched the extras. Then I posted a thread about it in FYAD. The next day, I bought the soundtrack.

In retrospect, I wish I could have seen it at a theater.

After reading reviews here and on IMDB, I can't help but think that the detractors simply don't "get" it. Either they're in the "If I wanted to read I'd get a book. This movie sucks!" crowd, or they're not able to understand a movie without Jerry Bruckheimer or James Cameron holding their hand every step of the way.

The "obvious" things in Amelie were intentionally obvious. They weren't there because the director thought you were too dumb to get it. Implying such can only mean... well... you're too dumb to get it, and missed the point entirely.

Best movie ever made? If I could get over my own pretentious "There's no social statement there... blah, blah, blah, blah..." I'd have to answer with a resounding "Yes." 5.5/5


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