"And Amélie, they come and go, the shadows and the distant sounds, but Amélie don't be afraid, when the weight of angels weighs you down!" Elton John is the only way to go for a song reference in this case, because you know you're in for one seriously gay adventure when you look at a French name whose full title translates as "The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain". I'm more amazed by how we ignorant Americans went from that to simply "Amélie", although we must not be too ignorant, because this is an overlong title after all, and we kicked Jean-Pierre Jeunet out after "Alien Resurrection". In case you don't have a clue on how lame "Alien Resurrection" is, the director went from that to a French romantic-comedy with a title who translated into "The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain". Mind you, before "Alien Resurrection", he studied the aftermath of the apocalypse through "Delicatessen", and children being kidnapped for the sake of terrible scientific experiments in "The City of Lost Children", but at this point, I suppose it's safe to say that fluff, if not intentional comedy is where he should stay. I'd say so, because through this film, he did the impossible and made a French film that is actually very popular in the states, although he probably couldn't have done it without a superficial romantic comedy plot, or, you know, the gay community. Well, in all fairness, for a French film, this is plenty of fun, at least more so than "Alien Resurrection", which isn't to say that it doesn't have a tendency to get carried away.
Look, now, there is simply no discussing this film without touching upon how blasted eccentric (Un) it is, because even its story and characters are essentially nothing if not whimsical, often to the point of being fun, and just as often to the point of getting on your nerves as too improbable to take in the context of a film this fluffy. Perhaps the fluff would be easier to embrace if the scripted interpretation of an overly cheesy story wasn't itself overly cheesy, as well as unrealized with its level of maturity, jarring between a somewhat mature, sometimes even risky attitude as a comedy, and a juvenility that takes what sophistication there is to this eccentric (Deux) affair out. I guess that would be fine if the uneven humor wasn't also uneven in its hits, for there are more than a few fall-flat moments in which the comedy is overbearingly corny, due to its being so overwrought and, of course, eccentric (Trois), just like the style of the film. This might very well be a formulaic rom-com, but its style is so unique and so top-notch that this film feels as though it's doing the unlikely and freshening up a tired filmmaking style, yet Jean-Pierre Jeunet still manages to mess that up at times, for this film is so heavily reliant on a fabulous, but - you guessed it - eccentric (Quatre) style that it begins to lose a sense of substance, wearing you down, and having plenty of time to do so. Though simply about two hours long, this film is overlong, because from an overdrawn background development segment, to segment shifts in the an episodic narrative about an eccentric (Cinq) lead encountering eccentric (Six) misadventures on her way to help eccentric (Sept) people, many aspects go dragged out to the point of focal unevenness, with help from filler that gets to be near-monotonous, and decidedly aimless. Really, the film simply gives you plenty of time to think about how eccentric-I mean, huit-I mean, light it is, because as inspired as this film is, perhaps to the extent of being relatively outstanding for what it is in a lot of place, what it is remains a thin fluff piece, made all the more inconsequential by too much cheese, style and fat around the edges. The final product doesn't truly reward, but for what it is, it surprisingly comes close, on the back of solid fun and, of course, artistry.
Aesthetic value thrives in this very French fluff piece, and that is reflected pretty heavily even within experimental musician Yann Tiersen's outstanding score, which utilizes archived and new pieces by the artist which carry an old-fashioned flavor to tight, either tastefully minimal or complex compositions in order to craft a colorful score which is both gorgeous by its own right, and about as fitting for this whimsical affair as impressive technical value. The film doesn't play with effects too much, but when it does, although the effects are intentionally surrealistic, they're relatively well-rendered and very well-conceived, capturing the fantastic aspects of this eccentric (Neuf) world which is further brought to life by immersively creative art direction by Volker Schäfer that is made all the more attractive by absolutely captivating cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel. Man, if you see this film for no other reason, see it simply to see how astonishingly good-looking it is with its being a definitive showcase of the great Delbonnel's vibrantly lush emphasis on bright colors against dreamy backlighting, and stylish camera angles, as the visual style of this film is so refreshing that it succeeds about as much as anything at pleasing on an aesthetic level in this artistically, well, marvelous fluff piece. The technical value of the film is outstanding, but before it can allow the film to transcend certain shortcomings and come closer to rewarding than the usual fluff piece of its nature, Jean-Pierre Jeunet needs to know what he's doing as director, and sure enough, as overwrought as he gets with his style, immersive framing, flashy editing and memorably nifty visuals have to be seen in order to be believed as heights in consistently lively scene structuring that go a long, long way making this film, at the very least a great deal of fun. For this entertainment value, credit is due both to Jeunet and to Guillaume Laurant, whose writing, quite frankly, gets to be a mess at times, what with its being so overbearingly overlong, uneven, juvenile and, course, eccentric (Dix), but still succeeds in molding delightful set pieces and plenty of fun comedy, all backed by memorably eccentric (Onze) roles who are actually sold better by quite the colorful cast. Most everyone who receives an extended amount of spotlight steals it, with thorough charm that still can't hold a candle to that of the perfectly well-cast and impossibly adorable Audrey Tautou, whose distinct look and impeccable and immersed portrayal of a uniquely eccentric (Douze) young woman who is shy, yet unpredictably imaginative makes the titular lead role of Amélie Poulain effective as an offbeat audience avatar, and so memorable that she one will find it hard to deny that she is iconic. As a uniquely stylish and distinct fluff piece, I'm telling you, this film does so very much right, it's just that what it does wrong makes it impossible to disregard the inconsequentiality which secure the final product as a little underwhelming, but if you're seeking originality and fun out of a rom-com, you're looking in the right direction if you spot this eccentric (Treize) affair.
When the fantasy ends, the harsh reality that this is a rather inconsequential flick goes stressed by too much improbability, cheese, - much of which is uneven in style - overstylization and uneven, or at least aimless excess to storytelling, though not so much overbearingness that beautiful score work, nifty effects, immersive art direction, stellar cinematography, outstandingly stylish direction, and colorful writing and acting - particularly by an iconic Audrey Tautou - fail to secure "Amélie", or, for you eccentric (Quatorze) folk who like overlong titles, "Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain" as a thoroughly fun, if both underdone and overdone modern classic of a French fluff piece. ...Excentrique (Fifteen)!
2.75/5 - Decent