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Ten years after it's theatrical release, Miramax and Lionsgate have finally put together a stellar US Blu-ray release for Jean-Pierre Jeunet's sugary masterpiece, Amélie. The film put the absolutely adorable Audrey Tautou on the A-list, supercharged Jeunet's career after the lukewarm response to his Hollywood debut, Alien Resurrection, and even managed to draw a large amount of Americans despite it being a French film. It's hyper real sensibilities, quirky humor, and warm message make Amélie one of the best films of the last decade.
As a child, Amélie (Audrey Tautou) grew up without a mother (she was killed in a freak accident), and her detached physician father kept her out of school after he misdiagnosed her with a heart condition. The result was a highly introverted and naïve young woman with a taste for the little things in life, and a new found knack for creating happiness around her while neglecting her own emotions. She works in a local cafe with a bizarre group of regulars, visits the local grocer who she feels needs an attitude adjustment, and befriends her brittle boned artist-neighbor who gives relationship advice only through cryptic discussions of his paintings. After accidentally finding a lost collection of thrown away photobooth photos, like a cute starry-eyed stalker, Amélie tracks down the owner (Mathieu Kassovitz), and gives the photos back through an elaborate scheme without revealing her identity. The owner finally tracks her down after she gives him several carefully constructed clues, and Amélie is forced to confront her social fears in order to embrace her own happiness.
Tautou's dainty looks, and perky portrayal radiate with youthful energy, enlightened by the quiet beauty of the world around her. Several times those wonderfully big eyes of hers break the forth wall to make sure the audience is part of her smile inducing schemes. Jeunet's use of color throughout the film is a little heavy handed, but for the most part the eye drawing colors work to the film's advantage. The film is awash with dull golds, but pop with saturated greens and reds that help accentuate its surreal tone. The ridiculous feels natural, and this is partially due to Bruno Delbonnel's beautiful cinematography. Within the fast paced, pixie stick fueled film, there are a great number of well crafted sweeping crane shots that bring the film to a graceful halt, if just for a second. The combination of perfect elements have calumniated into a fantastic and bubbly fairy tale love story.
Miramax and Lionsgate really put together an outstanding Blu-ray release for Amélie's US HD debut. The picture looks incredible, with outstanding detail, highlighted by the intricate interior set design, and depth in outdoor scenes. Though the crisp and balanced 5.1 soundtrack is fairly conversation driven, there is some noticeable separation. The disc is absolutely packed with special features, and leads off with a decent English commentary by Jeunet, who sheds some light on back stories of the film's production while being highly critical of himself. Next we are treated to a short featurette titled, “The Look of Amélie”, which features Jeunet and Delbonnel as they speak about how they achieved the unique look of the film. There is an entertaining short doc about the preproduction of the film titled “Home Movies”, and an extended interview with Jeunet about the critical reaction to the film, that overlaps a bit topic-wise with the commentary track. Also included are two Q&A sessions with the director and cast, as well as an outtakes reel featuring Tautou, a short story boards/film comparison, and a series of trailers. The disc comes packaged in a standard Blu-ray case.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet is an autuer, involved in every process of the film's creation, never yielding creative control. Amélie was his first dip into lighthearted romance, and he pulled it off spectacularly. The film was a massive success, both critically and financially. If you like quirky humor, don't mind subtitles, and you haven't seen this yet, you need to get on that, ASAP.
--Jordan M. Smith
Release Date: July 19, 2011