Heroes of the Zeroes: Amelie
Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films from 2000 to 2009.
Mentally embalming memories feels like preservation, but that can choke off and constrict. The folly of clinging only to past moments of joy instead of also forging new ones can erode what elated us in the first place.
Being open to the beauty of ordinary things, the impact of imagination and the potential of human kindness can — to borrow a phrase from Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film — ebb the flow of universal woe. And if the bountifully buoyant “Amelie” can’t stem the tide of a heart’s tribulations for a couple hours, nothing can.
Jeunet’s 2001 French masterpiece — a rebound from a Hollywood detour of “Alien: Resurrection” — told no less a fairytale than “Delicatessen” or “The City of Lost Children.”
This time, Jeunet shifted from the brothers Grimm to lovers’ whims — an existential “Emma” filled with beguiling mysteries of motivations and exuberant experiences plotted by the titular French pixie (Audrey Tautou). While Amelie brings happiness to others, can she do the same for herself with quixotic Nino (Matthieu Kassovitz)?
Spurred as much by mutual intentions and idiosyncrasies as attraction and emotions, Amelie and Nino’s love story burst forth in a colorful fantasia. Their wild goose chase of romance soared as high and as effortlessly as Bruno Delbonnel’s absinthe-tinged, Oscar-nominated camerawork. And their kiss made for one of The Zeroes’ most tender, quietly sensual and emotionally exploratory minutes.
“Times are hard for dreamers,” one character uttered. But Jeunet uncovered the blissfully metaphysical feeling that beautiful discoveries lie around the corner for everyone, every day.