This unbelievably fun movie represents a remarkable departure for director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, responsible for such atmospheric works as Delicatessen
, The City of Lost Children
and Alien Resurrection
. This time out, he goes for the heart and scores big with the story of Amelie (Audrey Tautou, who has unbelievable eyes), a woman determined to provide joy to those around her despite her rough and lonely life. Jeunet combines fantasy with reality to create the year’s best and most unique romantic comedy. The film is so original, it seems wrong to classify it as a romantic comedy. But at its center is a sweet romance, and it’s often very funny, so there you go. The film’s greatest pleasure comes from the methods Amelie employs to bring joy to people’s lives. For her dejected and reclusive father, she does interesting things with a lawn dwarf to inspire him toward world travel. For her artistic next-door neighbor, she creates videotapes of various amusing oddities to inject into his quiet, reclusive life. The film unfolds with breathless pacing and throws in some surprise visual effects that distinguish the film as something unlike anything you’ve seen before. Jeunet has always been an impressive visual artist, and he continues to be one with this film. He has never captured the human element as smartly as he does here, his greatest achievement. Funny, intelligent and so clever it hurts, it’s one of the year’s best, with Jeunet and Tautou deserving of year-end recognition.