Circumstances of watching it: Lovely Channel 4 decided to show Amélie on Christmas day. I really wanted to see it again, and luckily lethargic_man hadn't seen it and was keen to, so that was that settled.
Hm, now I need to try to put into words why I love Amélie so much!
I'm not really a film person; in the course of 2003 I watched a grand total of 6 films, and two of them were on TV over Christmas, two of them were in-flight movies, and one of them was when I was staying with darcydodo. Most films make me regret the lack of text; I'm much more verbal than visual, and I get confused easily by all but the most simple films, and I prefer the experience of reading over the experience of watching films generally. But Amélie is a complete exception to this; it doesn't seem like a poor substitute for a book, it seems like a work of art in the best sense, where the medium and content are most happily married.
But being generally a film Philistine, I feel unconfident about discussing a film. I don't know, the first time I saw Amélie when it came out, I felt as if I wanted to hug it, the film as a whole as much as the characters in it. Everything about it is so incredibly cute. I love the almost-surreal scenes, which enhances the feeling that it's set in a slightly alternative world where decent people triumph, even if they have no special talents and no obvious influence. It's almost like fairy-tale logic, but tranposed from Romantic pre-industrial Germany to modern day Paris. And the portrait of Paris in the film is as unrealistic as the fairy-tale view of Olden Times, but it's truly beautiful.
I love the way that Amélie masterminds things from behind the scenes. Even though she is the protagonist, somehow she stays in character as an extremely shy person; it's quite unlike any portrayal of an introvert I can think of in any fiction medium. In a way, it's the old story of small people triumphing, but these small people are genuinely small, they are not people with heroic abilities despite their lowly status, or aided by some great mystical force.
Amélie is also absolutely hilarious. The characters are delightfully silly, but the film is also full of all kinds of jokes, verbal as well as situational. I adore the voice-over done in the style of a really pompous documentary or biopic, but saying things that are just foolish or banal or both. And even though I'd seen the film before, I still enjoyed all the unexpected twists.
I think what really makes the film is the way that, intermingled with all the silliness are genuinely sympathetic characters I cared about. Even though the minor characters especially are caricatures, they are also human beings with real emotions, and I desperately wanted them all to be happy.
Wow, just writing this review has put me into manic grinning mode! Anyone who hasn't seen this film absolutely should.
It was also cool to watch it with P'tite Soeur who is well up on allusions to French culture, and the Thuggish Poet who is good at spotting subtexts and being generally literary, and lethargic_man with whom I could use the film as a springboard for lots of fun discussions about the difference between films and books as media, and why fictional relationships generally fail to resemble real relationships, and other good things.