Sunday, June 13, 2004

AMELIE

You know, I've had a favorite movie since about late junior high that usually seems to reflect where I am at that point in my life. First let me say by no means do I think my favorite film is the greatest film ever made. Those are completely different distinctions. My favorite film is simply the one I get a lot of joy out of, show to a lot of people, and watch about four or five times a year.
In late Junior High my favorite was the great Marx Brothers film Duck Soup. In early high school The Hudsucker Proxy. Then Brazil in college during my really dark years. Then The Third Man (which I might argue still as the greatest movie ever made depending on how I feel that day.)
Now that I've moved up here I've shed my cynicism like... Well, like I've shed my fat from my alcoholic years (although, also like the slimming down, I seem to have hit a plateau.) And in my new found joie de vivre I've come to embrace some things that I would have terribly sentimental. For example, I've started listening to The Prairie Home Companion every week, I've dug back into my Alexander Woollcott collection, and as of this last week my new favorite film is Amelie.
Let's get one thing straight, first of all. As far as genres go, my least favorite is romantic comedy. It's an ugly and, as a rule, contrived style of film. The closest I have to a romantic comedy in my vast film library is An American in Paris.

The Graduate was pretty good too though.

Well, if I keep it up I'll just sit and think about good and bad romantic comedies for an hour and never get to the review proper.

Usually there's a girl who we're supposed to fall in love with and she's got a guy who is perfect for her as a friend and some guy who is a rotten human being as a lover. Hijinx and then she gets with the good guy.
But this is a French film and they know from romance. Plus they saved our butts from King George the 3rd so we should be grateful to them.
The plot of Amelie isn't too much a departure from romantic comedies as we know them, but it's in the telling of the story. First of all the narrative and editing finally push the genre into something interesting stylistically. Then there's the fact that things are seen as romantic that would be used in American films to show that people are mentally ill. It rang too true for me because in relationships I'm often called obsessive in things I would call myself passionate in. But that's what I get for dating bourgeois pigs.

Good Lord. What is with me this evening?

While the style is used heavily at the beginning to hook us into the film, it doesn't disappear entirely in the film proper. There's a nice through line. The character archs are nice and the couple in the restaurant (one of whom starred in Delicatessen) isn't tied up in a neat little package. I won't spoil anything but it's nice to have some rough edges in a romantic comedy. Some ugliness too, like the produce stand fellow. Some tragedy like the glass man. Some truimphs in the end.
Something for everyone. A comedy tonight.
It's that well made and it's also entertaining as all get out.

I told you. Staying up here has made me joyful. I'm enjoying things without guilt and without tempering it with snide or self deprecating jokes. You'd hardly know me

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