Listen to our Amelie episode on:
Being the shameful philistines that we are here at Beyond The Box Set, foreign-language cinema has been something of an unintentional blind spot during our first year of episodes. It took this week’s special guest Nathan Hunt to nudge us out of our English-language comfort zone with one of the most beloved French movies of the 21st century to date – Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s whimsical modern fairytale Amélie, starring Audrey Tautou.
Nathan joins us from our near-namesake podcast Think Outside The Box Set, a smart, thoughtful and very funny journey through the back catalogues of enduringly popular recording artists as diverse as Garth Brooks, Insane Clown Posse and Alanis Morrissette. As one of our generous VIP supporters on Patreon, we were happy to invite Nathan to choose a film for us to cover this week and to brainstorm some sequels with us – and he certainly chose well.
Bursting with visual and narrative invention – from CGI effects to rapid-fire narration and frequent fourth wall breaking, Amélie is the kind of movie that could all too easily drown in its own quirk, if not for the assured direction of Jeunet, and Audrey Tautou totally believable and three-dimensional performance in the title role.
Due to her offbeat nature, the character of Amélie has occasionally been lumped in among the well-worn cinematic trope of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. However, this does a disservice to the character and to Tautou’s performance in the title role. The movie may be a romance, but Amélie’s quirks are all in service of a fully rounded human being and never at odds with the overall tone of the film. Moreover, the story is entirely hers from start to finish – she never exists purely to prop up or serve her male love interest.
In this week’s episode, we discuss the high wire tonal balancing act Jeunet and Tautou achieve with Amélie, and how the slightest shift in that tone could result in a much darker movie – which is unsurprising when you consider the director’s previous works such as Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children.
Naturally we also come up with some sequel ideas – which this week include a crossover with another breakout slice of inventive European cinema from the early 2000s, and a sequel that draws inspiration from an obscure children’s educational show. Intrigued? You will be…
Our Amélie episode can be found on most major Podcasting platforms using the links at the top of this blog show. If you enjoy the show, please consider subscribing, leaving us a positive review or becoming a VIP supporter on Patreon to access our wide variety of exclusive bonus content.
Next week, we’re joined by another pair of guests to discuss one of the defining sci-fi movies of the 21st century. Stay tuned, it’s bound to be a real odyssey…