Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Audrey Tatou as the vibrant, beautiful, wonderful Amelie (2001)

Audrey Tatou as the vibrant, beautiful, wonderful Amelie (2001)

  • Born:  1953
  • Rank:  79
  • Score:  525.00
  • Nominations:  BAFTA (won the BAFTA and Oscar nominated for Screenplay)
  • Feature Films:  5
  • Best:  A Very Long Engagement
  • Worst:  Alien: Resurrection

Films (in rank order):

  1. A Very Long Engagement – 2004
  2. Amelie – 2001
  3. City of Lost Children – 1995
  4. Delicatessen – 1991
  5. Alien: Resurrection – 1997

Top 10 Director Finishes (Nighthawk Awards):

  • 2001 – 3rd – Amelie
  • 2004 – 2nd – A Very Long Engagement

For a while, it looked like Jeunet’s career would follow a similar path to many foreign directors.  He became an art-house success with two strange, but very good films, then he was brought to Hollywood and it was a disaster.  While his entry in the Alien franchise is interesting, it definitely was not what audiences wanted.  But instead of failing in Hollywood he went back to France and made the two best French films since the 1940’s (yes, even better than any of Truffaut’s films).  His next film comes out later this year and given the international success of his last two films, I, for one, can’t wait.

The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain – #3 film of 2001

The title used above is the literal translation of the French title, and it says so much more than simply using her name.  It implies that she is a complete person and that there are great things in store for her.  And not only are there great things in store for her, but she deserves these things.  She is a wonderful person and this is a wonderful film.

The first few minutes are similar to many French films with the voiceover (echoing Jules and Jim, which is seen in the film), but suddenly, it takes off to a new level with Amelie’s poor suicidal fish.  Seeing this film in the theater in 2001, this was an astonishing revelation of something new and fresh.  But not just something new.  Amelie is a pathway through all of film history.

We have the 1940’s evoked in her slips.  Once the common sexual clothing in films (because of the code), slips have long fallen out of favor in American films and American life, but the inherent sex appeal of the slip is evident in almost every scene of Amelie in her apartment.

The 1950’s and 60’s era of French New Wave films is recalled throughout the film, with the voiceover, the creative editing, the final scene of two of them on the bike, and of course, the viewing of Jules and Jim in the theater.

And of course there is Audrey Tatou herself.  I spent most of the film thinking “so this is what Juliette Binoche was like 20 years ago”, but in the end between the views into the apartment through the window and the presence of her cat, it was Audrey Hepburn’s young vibrant sensuality that I was reminded of most.

And then there are the characters, so interesting, so alive.  This is a film filled with fascinating people and with two young actors (and characters) who deserve to find that happy ending.  Is there any romantic comedy where you root more for two people to get together?  He literally makes her melt.

And let’s not forget about the lawn gnome that travels the world.  Is it me or did Travelocity use the exact same lawn gnome?

The most amazing thing is that three years later, the same director, with the same star made a sad, tragic story that was so different, yet even better.  Who could have predicted it?

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