Released in France as "Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain", this utterly beguiling fable from one half of the team behind "Delicatessen" and "The City of Lost Children" whipped up a storm of controversy across the Channel, with some commentators arguing its nostalgic whimsy brushed the realities of modern multicultural Paris under the carpet. Audiences didn't seem to mind though, over seven million people have seen already, and the film earned accolades from both French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and President Jacques Chirac.
Apart from its frivolous references to Princess Diana's fatal car crash, it's unlikely British punters will find much to object to in this charming tale of a young French girl who helps strangers find love and happiness. A waitress in a Parisian café, Amélie (Audrey Tautou) sees it as her mission in life to right wrongs and improve the lives of her customers. But she proves rather less successful at bettering her own lot, despite falling for a handsome loner (Mathieu Kassovitz) with his own bizarre quest.
Forget the plot, the real delight is the army of oddballs that rotate around the gamine Miss Tautou. Hypochondriac tobacconists, tyrannical grocers, kindly strippers, failed writers, all human life is here thanks to Jean-Pierre Jeunet's stock company of character actors. With so many colourful eccentrics and unlikely subplots, it's perhaps inevitable that "Amélie" is episodic and fractured. But this is a small price to pay for a film guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a chanson in your coeur.
In French with English subtitles.
Visit the official "Amelie" website.
Read why Andrew Collins loves "Amelie" so much.