The disruptive love of Amélie Poulain

The romance of ‘Amélie’ feels like an afterthought because it demands doing – which is the aftermath of thinking

Rahul Desai | The Hindu

I was 21 when I first watched Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie, a French film about a 23-year-old Parisian waitress. As an introvert, I felt represented: the vivid primary colour palette, Yann Tiersen’s melancholic music, the quirky characters and eccentric vignettes. Amélie had canonised the language of isolation. The portrait of a sad and dreamy frog in a well wore the vibrant energy of a happy beast in the wild. A gaze was reinvented: Mundanity became an adventure of repetition, ordinariness became a playground of possibility, and fantasy became both ailment and cure. Loneliness felt hopeful – more like an acquired superpower than a hereditary disease. For once, silence sung a voice.

Amélie’s infatuation with a strange young man felt like an afterthought. It looked like a token insert, reiterating the long-standing cinematic misconception that a losing protagonist can only be rescued by the emergence of a soulmate. Over time, however, as I’ve struggled with the paradoxical pitfalls of adult companionship, my personal focus has shifted to Amélie Poulain’s love story. Over time, I’ve learned that the madness lies in the failed method of this romance.

Magically make-believe

Introverts are essentially people disappointed with the concept of people. Amélie grew up with neurotic and distant parents. By the time she moved away, she had already taken refuge in a make-believe world where every moment has a feeling. As a waitress working at a cafe, Amélie’s disenchantment with people – their puerile predictability, their wasteful routine – reaches its peak. She is tired of viewing them as bullet points of likes and dislikes. When she finds a box of someone’s old souvenirs, Amélie chooses to rebrand fact as the escapist fiction that kept her adolescence afloat. To inject life with her grammar of imagination, Amélie elevates humanity from noun to adjective. She reunites a reclusive man with memories from his childhood. She plays cupid by triggering an improbable romance between her fragile co-worker and a difficult customer. She fools the bitter concierge into believing that her cheating husband had sent her a conciliatory letter before his death. She inspires her mournful father to travel the world. She even teaches her rude neighbourhood grocer a lesson.

Amélie executes these forged deceptions of destiny like an artist weaving hidden symbols into complex artwork. She affects people, indirectly, in creative ways that marry her introverted spirit of seclusion with her extroverted affection for escapade. And in a manner that renews their faith in fate. She doesn’t simply deliver the souvenirs to the stranger; he is unsuspectingly lured into a phonebooth only to ‘discover’ the box there. She slyly incepts ideas into her colleague and father’s heads with well-timed gossip and globe-trotting gnomes. She painstakingly designs a handwritten letter for her concierge, and rigs her grocer’s house Home Alone-style. By resorting to stunts, Amélie reveals destiny as the domino effect of deflated dreams.

Enter romance

But Nino is the glitch in Amélie’s matrix of little pleasures. Amélie has the power to transform the everydayness of life into an exciting obstacle course of gestures. But that power disappears during her cat-and-mouse search for a soulmate. Her scenes with Nino never play out according to plan. The carefully constructed mystery of their meetings is punctured by the primal spontaneity of the heart. Despite her valiant efforts to choreograph the perfect union, Nino recognizes her at the cafe before she reveals her identity. Another time, Amélie misreads his contact with another waitress. At the photo booth, he is too preoccupied to notice her. And when Nino appears at her doorstep, she hesitates, and bumps into him after a tragedy of errors. The moment is awkward, undesigned, and she seals it with a smattering of tender pecks instead of an all-consuming kiss.

The romance of Amélie feels like an afterthought because it demands doing – which is the aftermath of thinking. For most people, finding love is a dream come true. For introverts, it’s the alarm clock that disrupts their dream. It defies every fibre of their being. It isn’t so much about falling in love as it is about making peace with the disappointment of falling in love. The pursuit rarely matches up to the grandiose visions of pursuit. This chasm is addressed in a wonderful scene towards the end of the film: A dejected Amélie returns to her flat and imagines the life she’s always wanted: She is baking a plumcake, Nino buys some yeast, sprints back upstairs and covertly caresses the bead curtains of her kitchen. But when she actually turns to look, it’s her cat brushing the beads – an image that snaps her back to her lonesome truth. Her lips quiver with dashed desire. Amélie has spent so long dreaming about her reality that she has forgotten to realise her dreams.

Moments later, Nino knocks on her door. Minutes later, she clutches onto his waist as they barrel down the street on his scooter. Amélie gets her happily ever after. Credits roll. It looks rushed, surreal, but for good reason. Now, if this were the final shot of Inception, the frame would cut to black just as the totem begins to wobble on her kitchen table.

Source: The disruptive love of Amélie Poulain – The Hindu

More on Amélie

Video: Paris tightrope walker wows onlookers with ‘magic’ Montmartre spectacle

French tightrope artist left hundreds of Parisians and tourists stunned with a performance that featured a walk on a rope suspended 35 meters (115 feet) above the ground in the city’s famous district of Montmartre.

Tatiana-Mosio Bongonga walked on a rope suspended by a crane at the base of the hill’s steps toward the Sacre Coeur basilica accompanied by a chamber orchestra, without any security equipment, a gesture many in the audience found nerve-wracking.

“It’s very surprising and very dangerous. It really impressed me, actually. I noticed that she was not secured. There was a lot of acrobatics. I had a really good time,” spectator Jennifer Mandelbaum told Reuters.

Bongonga, who prepared for the show for a year, said the experience of walking on a rope over Montmartre was “magic”.

Her performance was the first time a tightrope walker had attempted to cross up to the Sacre Coeur [ . . . ]

Continue reading at THE LOCAL: Video: Paris tightrope walker wows onlookers with ‘magic’ Montmartre spectacle – The Local



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My Life in Paris: Montmartre, Movies and Machine Guns, An Essay

In her latest must-read column from Paris, Theadora Brack pays homage to her favorite film, “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain.”

The sky is electric blue and the air is chilly. Propped up against a rock wall near Brassaï’s 285 steps on rue Foyatier, I watch the carousel spin under the gaze of the Sacré-Cœur. As a nearby street band plays Quizás, Quizás, Quizás over and over, the aroma of Nutella crêpes, salted French fries, and barbe à papa(cotton candy) tickles my nose.

Here in Montmartre’s fabric district, winged scissors graffiti rule the skinny rues. Easily unravelled by the mere sight of spools of yarn, patches, pompoms, and tassels, along with furbelows, bonnets, and bolts of toile de Jouy, this shiny sequinned quarter has never failed to woo my inner do-it-yourselfer.

It’s eleven in the morning. I’m waiting for the doors of Halle Saint-Pierre to open.

IN AMÉLIE’S FOOTSTEPS

Housed in a former 19th-century food market, the museum is similar in spirit to Switzerland’s Collection de l’Art Brut and Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum, featuring both contemporary and historic works by self-taught and fringe artists. The current exhibition gives props to movie props, specifically ones created by filmmakers Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Over the moon, my hands are shaking. See, I’m about to pay homage to my favourite movie: Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain.

I’ve seen the green-filtered confection at least 50 times. If it’s a crime, then I am guilty! But my declaration doesn’t stop there [ . . . ] More at source: My Life in Paris: Montmartre, Movies and Machine Guns, An Essay

Naked attraction: art and tragic tales in Modigliani’s Paris

As Tate Modern prepares a new exhibition of his work, including 12 of his famous nudes, Louise Roddon explores the artist’s haunts around Montmartre and Montparnasse

Poor Amedeo Modigliani, what a tough life he led. I’m thinking this as I climb the steps to his last studio in Montparnasse. It’s a classic artist’s garret with peeling paint and poor lighting, and climbing the countless floors on a narrow stone tread, leaves me winded. It wouldn’t have been easy for a man with advanced tuberculosis. With Tate Modern about to stage its Modigliani exhibition, I’ve come to number 8 Rue de la Grande-Chaumière, his final home before he died tragically young in 1920. At 35, he wasn’t just a victim of TB, but was suffering the toll of a lifetime’s enthusiasm for alcohol and drugs [ . . . ]

More: Naked attraction: art and tragic tales in Modigliani’s Paris

A Map of Every Amelie Filming Location in Real Life (in Paris)

Amelie (Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain in French), directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, became a French classic with worldwide fame. The romantic comedy shows the history of Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou), a waitress in Montmartre who keeps watching the people around her. She aspires to do some good around her and finds a small toy box and decides to find its owner. On her way, she will meet many characters, always with Yann Tiersen music as the original soundtrack, and she will go through many places in Paris you must visit.

If you already know this movie, get ready to follow Amélie Poulain’s steps. If you don’t, watch it before you even read this article, and you shall see a difference in these mythical places.

Read Full Story: A Map of Every Amelie Filming Location in Real Life (in Paris)

How to do Montmartre in 24 hours

A day in Montmartre will probably kick off at Abbesses metro station (line 12). At 36m below ground, this hillside tube stop is in fact the deepest station in Paris, so we won’t judge if you take the lift up to street level.Emerging from your mole-like underground state into the humming centre of Montmartre will most likely be a rude awakening. Visiting school groups thronging the streets, buskers churning out Parisian ‘classics’, street vendors thrusting plastic Eiffel Towers in your face: it’s hardly the most relaxing scene. But today you’ll move away from the crowds and explore the lesser known side of the quaint northern neighbourhood
[ . . . ]

Read Full Story: How to do Montmartre in 24 hours | 24 hour guides | Time Out Paris