Amélie ★★★★★

Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a master of whimsical quirk and Amélie might be his ultimate achievement. It's a kind of neo-fairytale or modern storybook romance, heightened to such with its narration and its wonderful score by Yann Tiersen, simple and melodic, like a small band playing in a café on a sunny afternoon. It delves more than slightly into fantasy, as romance often does, but does so in a very refreshing and fun way. This is a world where gnomes travel and skeletons are somewhat sensual. At the same time, this is just the magic that can and does happen everyday.

Audrey Tautou is impressingly adorable as title character Amélie Poulain, a young woman with the power and imagination to change the lives of just about everyone she comes into contact with. She lives in the moment, enjoying the ways she can bring smiles to the faces of her friends and right the wrongs that she witnesses. She's quiet and seemingly meek, but speaks volumes with her mischievous smile and loving eyes. She finds exciting adventure in what could be the most mundane situations, not taking any little thing for granted.

The film is stuffed with intertwining stories small and large that Amélie drives along, and they are each as important as the next, no matter how much or how little the movie dwells on them. What truly brings happiness? Does the truth really matter if we never know it, when it's what we personally experience that moves us along, for better or for worse. How important is the smallest exchange we may have with a stranger? Sometimes you don't even realize just how much of an effect you have, because you're not seeing the situation from their eyes. But it's all important. The details are all meaningful.

Visually, the film is mostly warm and lush with yellows and reds that pop like blood coursing through the heart. This is contrasted with an undertone of very vibrant greens and cool blues that create a fantastic atmosphere and make everything feel like an organic, natural setting. The color theory here is actually quite amazing, making the film special and nostalgic right from the beginning. It has a lightness, but is still emotional and will leave you with the inspirations of a hopeless romantic. It warms your heart, becoming overwhelming without being overbearing.

Amélie is indeed pure romance. This is the romance of life and it's intricacies, even in it's darkest moments. The film allows you to enjoy even the smallest things that might usually be overlooked and gives importance to the playful particulars of life like the joy of peeling large strips of wallpaper or skipping the best stones along a canal. It shows how one small thing may unfold a series of events that can help you conquer your fears or lead you to where you need to be in life. It shows the perfect, imaginary life we live in our heads and how close to the real world it could actually be. And, of course, it shows true love, as easy or as hard as it might be to find, and just how close it might come to slipping right through your fingers if you're not looking at it from the right angle.