Amélie

By Tim Barlow

amelie-image-1

My high school’s senior yearbook, like all senior yearbooks, featured a section dedicated to honoring a select few seniors: most likely to succeed,  best smile, class clown, etc…  During my senior year, each recipient was afforded space in the layout for a quote of their choosing, and a friend of mine, whose girlfriend won “Most Friendly”, was asked by her to supply that quote.  He wrote, “Life’s too short not to enjoy people”.

As an introvert with self-diagnosed social anxiety disorder (thanks, Zoloft commercials!). This quote always struck me as annoyingly matter-of-fact and counter to my own view.  Surely, everyone is not enjoyable; I myself have met more than a few who couldn’t possibly qualify. Enjoying people takes time and the right mix of complementary traits (and the premonition to know when I’d like to be alone). But in the end, is life actually too short not to enjoy people?

There are a lot of reasons to love the quirky and enchanting, french foreign language movie, Amélie. Hell, even just watching quirky french foreign language movies instantly makes you more cultured and interesting, I mean, am I right?  Right??  Oh my god, is that not true anymore?! Sigh, okay, besides an innate (and now possibly tainted) sense of cultural superiority, one of the aspects of Amélie I like most is that she (the movie’s protagonist, conveniently named, Amélie) is an introvert, who feels separate from, and on the outside looking in on the world.  Through her introversion and isolation, Amélie has noticed the nuanced sacredness of simple treasures like skipping stones and cracking créme brûlée.  All the while keeping society and people at arm’s length. But after a chance hidden treasure reveals itself in her life, and the ensuing curiosity to find the connection that treasure holds for its previous owner, the (challenging) path towards engaging with the world is laid out.

So, rather than her introversion cultivating cynicism or jealousy, Amélie applies her distance to better see all the unique and quirky people who surround her. All the baggage, the hopes and insecurities that might have labeled them as “not-enjoyable” to another observer, through the course of the movie, become an extension to Amélie’s quirky everyday treasures.  It’s for this personally hope-filled reason (among others) that I love this movie so stinkin’ much.

If however, rose-colored introversion isn’t your thing, at least listen to the soundtrack.  When was the last time a movie soundtrack mattered?  Garden State? Forrest Gump? Top Gun!?  No, these are not songs by The Shins that changed your life.  Amélie’s, done almost entirely by Yann Tiersen, is a whimsical, virtually lyric-less, enchanting piece of French-idealized composition.  Not only is the way in which it completely, and seamlessly, interweaves with the feel and flow of the movie incredible, but equally incredible is how well the soundtrack stands alone. The number of times I have put it on at work, or while painting the house, or while sipping wine, and staring contentedly out the window, dreaming of that summer in Paris I never had, where we ate croissants and took wooden row boats on the Seine, is proudly in the double digits.  Do yourself a favor and bring this bad bo.., nope not a bad boy, bring this charming, spontaneous flower up on spotify, open a bottle of wine, crack the windows and that aggressive novel, and have yourself a totally bitchin’ Saturday afternoon.

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