What is the Perfect French Movie?
But surely everyone has seen Amelie? I had indeed seen Amelie, when it first appeared, but what a delight it was to see it again on a DVD, and particularly to follow along with the director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet as he discussed the making of the film. Jeunet drew my attention to many things that had escaped my attention the first time around, plus answered questions I would have asked if I had met with him in person.
Paris Street - Latin quarter
First, the irresistible Audrey Tautou makes the movie unforgettable. The casting is one of those rare moments of bringing together the perfect actress with the part. The huge brown eyes, the whimsical smile, the dreaminess she portrays make it impossible to imagine anyone else in the part.
Then there is the equally picture-perfect setting of Montmartre with its village feel. While many movies that we are watching as a prelude to our trip to France give only fleeting glances of Paris, or soundstage recreations, this one sticks to the narrow streets and shops and parks of Montmartre.
Some movie goers get impatient with whimsy, but the layers of Amelie keep everyone interested. As Amelie flits through life fixing other people's lives like a fairy godmother, we see her own sometimes ridiculous attempts to direct her own destiny.
It is hard to pick perfect scenes, but the very old painter who lives in Amelie's apartment building and recreates ancient masterpieces intrigues me. Amelie gives him helpful hints and in a sense paints herself into his picture as her little romance develops.
So if you have not seen Amelie, take a trip to Montmartre with the movie. If you saw it long ago, take another look and check out the fascinating director's notes. Me--I'm off to see if I can find a copy of the soundtrack to add to my I-pod.
Check this post at A Traveler's Library http://atravelerslibrary.com/2010/07/09/the-perfect-french-movie/
and read the many, many suggestions from readers in the comment section. My list of movies on France grew rapidly after writing this post, and I just watched one which will be reviewed in early February, the 2006 movie, Avenue Montaigne. You can also find several movie reviews at A Traveler's Library, by entering France in the search box. And add your comments here with your own favorite.
Vera Marie Badertscher, a freelance writer, blogs about books and movies that inspire travel at A Traveler's Library. http://atravelerslibrary.com
All photos copyright by Vera Marie Badertscher. Do not copy without permission.