Amelie is as delightful as she is quirky. Daunted by life, she discovers secrets in little things. Seldom has alienation appeared so attractive.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet is no stranger to strange. He co-directed, with Marc Caro, The City Of Lost Children and Delicatessen. In his world, normality and abnormality are the same.

Amelie's mother is killed by a falling suicide. Her father is a health inspector, who repairs garden gnomes. She carries stones in her pocket to skim across flat water and falls in love with a man she has never met, because he collects discarded photo booth pictures.

Her childhood was bereft of physical contact, both parents being averse to outward shows of emotion. The only time her father touched her was when he administered a medical examination. Her excitement caused him to diagnose an erratic heartbeat, which restricted freedom of movement and made her feel like an invalid.

When she grows up, she observes the world through different eyes. She notices detail and feels sympathy for those who stand apart, like the reclusive artist who paints Renoir's Luncheon Of The Boating Party over and over again, and the greengrocer's son who is bullied by his father for finding beauty in vegetables.

The film is a fable, which is another way of saying it's not real, although it is if you're looking from a sideways angle. Audrey Tautou is perfectly cast, with her severe haircut and delicate manner.

Jeunet has such an imaginative approach to film that he creates an atmosphere of magic. Eccentricity is a quality that needs protection and love an emotion that remains elusive. Amelie observes from a position of strength. She has not been corrupted by happiness, nor compromised by desire. Her heart is pure.

by The Wolf

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