Victoria Jelinek


Celebration of Paris: Midnight in Paris & Amelie

Picking up from last month’s The French Paper interview with Woody Allen at the Cannes Film Festival, I’ve reviewed his latest film Minuit a Paris (Midnight in Paris) currently in cinemas. Because Allen’s film celebrates Paris as the city of light, the city of romance, and the city of beauty and possibility, I have chosen another film that honours Paris’ ‘heart’, too.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Director Woody Allen’s latest film, which premiered in Cannes this year, is a romantic comedy about a family travelling to Paris for business, including a young engaged couple. Our hero, one half of the couple, is unhappy, but not entirely sure how to amend his malcontent. During his rambling evening walks, our hero finds that he is transported to 1920’s Paris every night at midnight when he stands at a certain place in the city. In this other age he meets many of his heroes, such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dali, Bunuel, Picasso, Man Ray and Gertrude Stein.  During these visits, our hero is forced to confront his illusion that a life different from his own is better, even as he also finds that some elements of his dreams are worth pursuing in his ‘real’ life.

This film is not one of Allen’s greats – Manhattan or Annie Hall or even The Mighty Aphrodite – but it is the best of recent years and absolutely worth watching. That said, it’s not a film for everyone because of its literary and artistic references as well as its subtext of existentialism, but that’s not to say that it’s ‘high brow’ or overly intellectual at all. Ultimately, Woody Allen’s film is an homage to creativity and dreams as a reality rather than as an illusion. This reviewer left the cinema after watching this film feeling that “all things are possible.”

AMELIE

Amelie secretly sorts out the sad little problems in her friends’ lives, bringing joy to them without being happy herself.  But when she finds a photo album belonging to a stranger called Nino, she realises that she’s in love from afar, a problem of her own she has to deal with, among other problems, one of which is that as a child she was isolated from her peers and withdrew into a private world of her own. Luckily, however, this gives her a great imagination and gives Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet the opportunity to filter the film through some of Amelie’s gently bizarre observations.

As in Director Jeunet’s other film Delicatessen, the affectionately eccentric and grotesque characters are essentially lonely people who share their geography. Unlike Delicatessen, there is the positive force of Amelie, played charmingly by Audrey Tautou, who brightens their lives and fills them, and us, with hope and happiness.

This colossal French box office hit has an irresistible charm that will eliminate the storm clouds hanging over the heads of even the most desolate misanthrope. With its wonderful soundtrack, Amelie leaves the viewer feeling revitalized and dreamy.



The Tourist
November 4, 2010, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Published film reviews | Tags: , , , ,

The girlfriend of international fugitive Alexander Pearce, Elise (Angelina Jolie) picks up a tourist named Frank (Johnny Depp) on a train from Paris to Venice. Their plan is to persuade the police that Frank is Alexander, but then the ‘doppelganger’ becomes the target for a scary gangster.

Jolie and Depp have spent much of their careers playing roles in which they are dowdy, eccentric, neurotic, or freakish, so it’s forgivable that they’d want to take on a project that shows off their good looks before doing another ‘serious’ film or goofy Tim Burton movie.  But this film doesn’t ‘sizzle’, either in action, dialogue, or through benefit of a good chemistry between Jolie and Depp. And, while there are twists and turns, reversals and revelations, there is little to keep one engaged in this film.

This film is for those who simply want to look at one or the other actor in all of their charisma and beauty, or for those who are devotees of these actors’ work. For the rest of us expecting more, you’ll be disappointed.