Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain
starring Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Yolande Moreau
screenplay by Guillaume Laurant, Jean-Pierre Jeunet
directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
by Walter Chaw Caught between an iceberg of a father (Rufus) and a nervous wreck of a mother (Lorella Cravotta), the very peculiar Amélie (Audrey Tautou) develops in her youth an active imagination to combat emotional starvation. When she's 22, on the night of Lady Di's death-by-paparazzi, Amélie accidentally discovers a tin of toys and photographs, a child's treasure cache hidden away in her apartment some forty years previous. Resolving to return the artifacts to their rightful owner, Amélie discovers that acts of altruism serve as voyeuristic surrogates to her life's social desolation. Taking its cue from the bare structure of Jane Austen's Emma and--ironically, considering the ultra-stylistic character of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's direction--the stark work of the Nouvelle Vague (Truffaut in particular), the strength of Amélie (Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain) is in its imagery. Its weaknesses, alas, are a running time that is at least a half-an-hour too long and a resolution so predictable that the film's problems of pacing and length meet in something resembling frustration.