Amelie strides out of Paris' Montmartre district with virtuoso visual inventiveness and delightfully contagious whimsy. Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (the warped mind behind Delicatessen and Alien: Resurrection), the movie turns to color and cheer while actually intensifying Jeunet's creativity. The tale follows a sweetly mischievous girl from birth to adulthood. Amelie works in a bistro and develops a flair for arranging elaborate ruses that deliver magic into friends' lives—and chastise the nasty. Amelie hides behind the walls of her self-invented world, pulling Rube Goldberg-like strings from a distance. That is, until she crosses paths with a sheepish odd-job boy (Mathieu Kassovitz, the director of Hate) whose pastime is collecting discarded images from unsatisfied photo-booth customers.
The film has so many rich details that it's best to simply go see it, possibly more than once. Characterization and exposition move at a delightful clip, etching unique characters with an efficiency that might be hard-to-spot since it is so immediately entertaining. Audrey Tautou brings Amelie's shy exuberance to life with a perky haircut and entrancing eyes.
Amelie differs from Jeunet's earlier work in that it is breezy and ultimately positive, while retaining his flair for quirk that made the post-Apocalyptic 50's French apartment dwellers in Delicatessen so captivating. Whereas his other movies were grimy sepia-soaked marvels, Amelie bursts with vivid light. The neighborhood of Montmartre, for example, is as thoroughly rendered as any other character.Amelie's world-class delights will leave you upbeat but make no mistakes: the craft behind this film is formidable indeed.