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"Quite simply, the harmony and love come from her pure joy in doing good for another, of reaching out with a heart of unconditional love."
Raymond Teague is the author of Reel
Spirit: A Guide to Movies That
He is an award-winning
His book is available by clicking the "Buy the Book" link above or by clicking here.
"Reel Spirit" Movie Reviews
"She'll change your life," the movie posters proclaim, and that just may be true about the title character in Amelie.
In these modern times when so many people feel confused, fearful, frustrated, distrustful, unloved, and depressed, and don't know which way to turn to help themselves reconnect with the true spirit of Love from which they seem isolated, Amelie points the way to salvation.
Her method out of perceived misery and into bliss here on Earth is actually very traditional, a tried-and-true formula recommended by spiritual teachers for centuries, from the Buddha and Jesus to the Dalai Lama and the minister of whatever denomination down the street: help and love others.
A vintage message but one delivered with marvelous exuberance and creativity in this film that has delighted Europe and is now doing the same in terror-weary America. Amelie is a modern fairy tale in the tradition of Babe and Chocolat, and as such is clearly meant not only to entertain but also to inspire (both of which it does royally).
If people would only take Amelie's joy to heart, the planet would be a lot better off.
At the beginning of the story, Amelie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) is like many of us - she comes from a rather dysfunctional family and is introverted and shy and unsure how to connect with love. But then in the magical fashion of fate, Amelie discovers and returns a tin of childhood treasures to a man, and in that selfless action her life is transformed.
"Amelie suddenly has a strange feeling of absolute harmony" and is overcome with a surge of love for all humankind, viewers are told.
It's crucial not to minimize or overlook what has happened to Amelie, what has brought about her feeling of harmony and love. Quite simply, the harmony and love come from her pure joy in doing good for another, of reaching out with a heart of unconditional love.
In fact, Amelie's whole being is so opened up with the joy and compassion of helping and loving others that she literally runs throughout Paris doing good deeds. Those she helps include a lonely man and woman at the cafe where she works, her father, a neighbor who suffers from "glass-bone disease," and a blind man to whom she rapidly describes the scenes around him. The expression on the blind man's face as he looks up to the heavens after the encounter with Amelie visually captures the uplifting spiritual effect of our heroine's new raison d'etre.
Along the way, Amelie fantasizes herself as the "Godmother of Outcasts" and as Zoro liberating the needy. When situations call for it, Amelie even mischievously doles out punishment to help the unjust learn a thing or two. To a mean vegetable stand owner, she says, "You'll never be a vegetable. Even artichokes have hearts."
Reviewers have called Amelie a "feel-good movie," and it does indeed make you feel good cheering on someone who so delights in helping and loving others.
Amelie is a welcomed movie for these times. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who co-wrote the script with Guillaume Laurant, said, "Sometimes it's good to forget cynicism, sometimes it's good to dream."
Amelie's world does have a dreamlike quality to it, owing much to Jeunet's fast-paced direction and surprisingly whimsical touches, but let's hope that such altruistic dreams will spill over into waking reality.
While fate certainly seems to have a role in Amelie's destiny, Amelie's own choices are crucial, especially in learning to take risks for herself and find her own true love.
Amelie is an immensely soul-satisfying film worthy of repeated viewings, partly to discover details missed while reading the subtitles but mainly to absorb Amelie's infectious energy. May the multitudes savor and emulate Amelie's do-goodness and love.