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Amelie – Intercultural Film Review Essay

Amelie is a French movie about a young twenty something girl who’s world opened up to her when her mother dies and she is allowed to venture out. After a health misdiagnoses at a young child Amelie is stranded in her home away from all people and relationships until her mother passes away and she finds herself free. She becomes a waitress and decides to help all the people around her until one day she herself finds love. This film shows a French cultural pattern where the people are open minded, whimsical, unique, and quirky. The main character Amelie, wants to get the most out of her life. She takes the viewer on a path through a series of subplots where she is trying to help people that surround her find happiness and joy. Paris and the people of France are shown in a whimsical and fairytale environment. All the while, Amelie, is removed from all human contact which makes for an interesting film if one is attempting to view this film through the lens of interpersonal communication. All the communicating in the movie is done through the use of metaphors, scheme, plots, tricks, and the like. It’s interesting because Amelie doesn’t directly communicate with people even though she is not anti-social. She is very social and likes to help people but she does so almost exclusively nonverbally.

One exception to this is when Amelie helps a blind man to cross a busy street and, opposite to her normally silent nonverbal character, she proceeds to very quickly describe everything that she sees and everything that is happening to the blind man in exceptional detail. This is done as an act of kindness for someone who can’t see and not as a form of actual or real communication. All real communication in this movie, is done in a childlike fashion of cat and mouse. It feels almost like interpersonal communication in this movie is a game that is not to be taken seriously. When Amelie finds a boy that she is romantically interested in, she finds herself needing to communicate with him only from a distance. Amelie once again plays one of her games in order to conceal her identity. Nino, the object of Amelie’s affection, is a boy who collects old photos from an old photo booth. The use of pictures in this movie is overwhelming and must have some reason behind it. It’s almost as if the characters are communicating through the pictures rather than with words.

Even when Amelie was quickly describing the surrounding to the blind man she was helping across the street, it was as if she was creating a picture in his mind so he could connect with her. Perhaps Amelie can only communicate through imagery like metaphors and photographs because she spent her entire childhood alone with only her parents because they thought she was too ill to be around others. I have mixed feelings about this film because I can appreciate a good romantic comedy and I understand the feeling the director was trying to create but I’m not a fan of the fanciful fairytale romances which I think this movie falls into. I would have preferred a movie with a real underlining tone and I could do without all the whimsy. Amelie felt like a child in a woman’s body, not unlike 13 going on 30¸ and for me the doe eyed cutesy character began to wear on me and I found myself more annoyed than anything by the end. The setting is Paris, but not the real Paris but rather a fantasy version of Paris not unlike a dream or the Paris you can see in old movies. The story itself felt very Disney-like in that the mother dies in the beginning which is the impetuous to the main character being forced unprepared onto the world, the main character then helps many sub-characters out along the way to finding her true love.

Very Disney indeed. I’m certain that I would not recommend this movie to my friends or my family, but maybe it would have a place in a cultural communications classroom. I think the only problem I would have with it is that it doesn’t portray an actual or real culture, and only portrays a fantasy like culture. The lead character is able to form relationships and make the audience care about her without having to say much at all, which can have some value when it comes to the study of nonverbal communication. Also, there might be a value to getting a feel for the French culture from this film, because even though I didn’t love the story or the film-making, there was something about the ‘sound’ in the film. The dialogue did draw me into the French culture which was interesting because I don’t speak any French. Even though I struggle to pinpoint the feeling or atmosphere of the film, I do think that something was captured even if it was just the Disney version of Paris and French Culture.

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