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The Whimsical Journey of Amélie (2002)

Imagine yourself going back home after a long, busy day, not in a particularly good mood, and being about to cheer yourself up with a movie to watch. Sure, there’s that new action movie with good ratings, or that everyone’s favorite rom-com your friends were just raving about last week. Still, you can’t help but to ignore all that and go straight to that one movie you always love and have watched more than a dozen times—your comfort movie. Comfort movies vary for everyone, but the one certain criterion is that they make you feel good no matter what—like a hot soup when you’re sick or a blanket when you’re cold. And to me,  no movie  fits this description better than the 2002 French movie, Amélie. 

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Amélie is one of the sweetest and most beautiful films about the simple pleasures of life, and how the little things we encounter can be far more valuable than we deemed them to be. It centers around Amélie Poulain, played by Audrey Tatou, a waitress who accidentally stumbled upon a box left by the previous tenant of her apartment, and embarks on a mission to return the box to its owner in her dedication to bring joy and happiness to other people. 

Through the vivid colors of a Parisian journey, Jeunet brings a heartwarming story with a delightful cast of characters to life in a beautiful 122-minute ride of a narrative that’s the equivalent of a warm hug. The beauty of this film can be found in the attention it gives to the details, and how it seems to “waste” its time on pondering through seemingly irrelevant sequences as if encouraging us to stop by and enjoy the flowers in the middle of a walk. Jeunet manages to find the perfect balance in such a light-hearted pace, making every stop a memorable experience that leaves us with a lingering sweet taste. Coupled with the aesthetically pleasing cinematography, the movie creates a magical experience out of nothing but the mundane day-to-day experiences we often disregard.

The movie is not complete without the performance of Audrey Tatou as Amélie Poulain. With her huge eyes and bob hairstyle, the character Amélie is what really draws me into the movie, as I think the essence of the story will not be well executed had it not been for her peculiar and delectable personality. Raised as an imaginative and mischievous girl, her charm and eccentricity go perfectly with the story, and give the movie its entertaining and iconic moments, from dipping her hands inside a sack of grains to cracking open a crème brûlée with a spoon.

Overall, the essence of Amélie is about finding joy in little things, and recognizing the importance of selflessness and kindness, like that feeling of satisfaction when you make a person smile, or knowing how your actions can change someone else’s life. A suitable message for the whimsical journey of a lovely girl like Amélie, and a fitting story to watch when you ever need a hug to feel good about life.  

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