Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Amélie (2001)

A quick list of some things I like: critically acclaimed films, French women, quirky yet realistic characters.

A quick list of things I don't get: Amélie, the love for Amélie.

It should have been a perfect storm but I just didn't really enjoy Amélie at all. I finally got around to watching it after going through a "Movies like this" list for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which still sits on the throne of my favourite films, so I was expecting to fall in love.

Amélie just stinks to the high heavens of trying way too hard. It's charming, but it's too charming. It's quirky, but it's too quirky. It's whimsical, but it's too whimsical. The only grounding element in the film comes in the neuroses of Amélie herself: an introvert badly damaged by her incompetent parents who finds it hard to properly connect with others. But her broken social skillset is too little to stem the flow of tweeness flowing out of every other character and situation in the film. 

I'd be tempted to put it down to a simple difference of culture. Maybe it's just one of those French things that as an uncultured Englishman I'm never going to get? But I recently caught a few episodes of The Returned (a French mystery TV series) and that was beautifully bleak. As you might have already guessed from this review, I should have liked this. I tend to fall in love with the "manic pixie dream girl" characters despite how disgustingly unrealistic they are. Some of my favourite films are Garden State, Eternal Sunshine and Breakfast at Tiffany's (and that isn't easy for a straight, male twentysomething to admit) and was expecting Amélie to slot right in there in next to them but apparently I have a point where I draw the line and say "cut that quirky shit out, you're a grown woman for God's sake".

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