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‘Amélie’ 2005/10/17

Posted by Dave in Movies, Reviews.

On the site of the old Glasgow Apollo/ Green’s Playhouse venue, in Glasgow city, a new multi-storey UCG Cinema was built, and at our first visit a couple of years back, we saw ‘Amélie’. The film was, for me, in competition with the new venue, so I was looking forward to watching it on the small screen tonight. In the spirit of ‘Amélie’– I like watching films on both TV and cinema.

I was already acquainted with the ‘gnome travelling the world/postcards’ tale before seeing it on the screen. The notion of getting two customers to think they fancy each other is straight from comic opera, Shakespeare, Brian Rix, or even Gilbert & Sullivan. These well-knowns kind-of slightly spoiled the film first-time round for me.

I was not previously aware of the idea of the photo-booth collector/ mystery-man strand, or the tampering with people’s belongings (fake letters, changing the speed-dial numbers, lamp-bulb wattages and slipper size). However, because of the gnome and the set-up lovers, I originally wrote the whole film off as a cobbled-together bunch of re-worked ideas and e-mail jokes.

Having seen the film afresh on TV tonight, I can say that it works very well indeed — a very enjoyable film, with well-paced modern editing (which makes it seem shorter in duration that it actually is, due to the increased movement of the eye), and modern directing too — fun crane shots, lots of zooming and movement, good location shots, fun ideas and overall very very French.

But I still have a problem with the film.

The French somehow have a way of allowing us to look at weirdos, low-life-losers and rejects as interesting characters.

Amelie herself is an educationally deficient, shy, wallflower of a lass who dresses like Olive Oyl from the Popeye cartoons. Her romantic interest is a grubby bloke who works in a sex shop and ghost train and who goes through public rubbish bins for a hobby, and everyone else in the film is equally as-strange for one reason or another.

In French cinema, neither ‘character’ nor ‘character-trait’ are judged.

The problem with that is that it leaves it open for people to think it condones or promotes that which it portrays… hence this film may resonate with girls who dress badly because they want to be like Amélie, or who want to be exotic, strange or French.

I suppose you take out of cinema what you will, and what you do get from a film may well be different to what someone else gets out of a film.

This film encourages interference, manipulation, and connivance — perhaps with a sense of humour — practical-joke stuff, but maybe also mischievously, but hopefully not maliciously.

Metaphors and exaggerations in this film can easily be misconstrued. The game-playing, playing hard to get, giving the man the run around — all of which are exaggerated in the film, are far more likely to fail if copied in the real world. Similarly, if any girl should aspire to be Amélie– bad haircut, big Clod-Hopper clumpy shoes, frumpy frocks and socks — they would, I fear, start out on the spinster shelf and if they were as hard-to-get as Amélie, they would more-than-likely stay on the spinster shelf forever and ever nay-men.

Now, through people I know, friends of friends, and friends of Ruth, I know of females who for some unknown reason think that they are specially gifted in some way.

It’s a shame, but they just dress really really badly, and they think they are gifted with clothes and interior design. Mind you, not one of them seems to have a partner (although some do have a kid or two).

Amélie appears to be their favourite film… and that would be scary, but they thankfully have not taken (as far as I can tell) the manipulation/mischief from the film, rather they have taken the acceptance of weirdness, of being child-like, of low ambitions and aspirations and of course, dressing-very-very-badly indeed.


1. filmfan - 2008/10/25

Cineworld Glasgow Renfrew Street is the tallest cinema in the world and the busiest, by customer base, in the UK (wikipedia)

2. ‘A very long engagement’ « devine - 2008/12/08

[…] wanted to find out if ‘Mathilde’ (played by Audrey Tautou who starred in ‘Amélie‘) was right in thinking that her betrothed ‘Manech’ had survived the first world […]

3. mae - 2009/07/20

It’s an excellent quirky film; perhaps you just don’t “get it”?

4. Daddy Dave - 2009/07/20

My post is not really about this particular film, more about my observation that French cinema generally offers a delusion — an alternative reality — that seems to be very attractive to a certain type of woman.

I said I enjoyed ‘Amélie’, I saw the quirkiness as funny, but some people I know take it seriously, and aspire to be like that — terrible haircuts, glazed naivety and bad shoes! Meh!

5. Esme Squalor - 2009/11/02

Terrible shoes? Glazed naiveté? Bad shoes? What the hell are you talking about and where are you from?

6. Mae - 2011/05/12

You had me at the review; you lost me with the spinster talk and sexism.

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