In spite of my well-constructed exterior of posh sophistication, I have within my being certain oddities. I admit to doing shag-a-licious, bootylicious dances with my alter-ego in the mirror. When my beloved furry friend was still alive I had a tendency, brought on no doubt, by his being feline and possessing orange fur, to lift him up high and dramatically recreating the opening sequence of the Lion King. Yes—it is true—the literary goddess has been known to do some rather peculiar things—such as having vicious battles with my mother on who gets to burst the bubble wrap. All of these—quirks dare I say—are as deeply embedded in me, as my smartly academic and decadently sophisticated intellectual side.
The great thing about being quirky is that most people to a degree have these elements within them. Although not everyone may have, when standing on a crowded train, daydreamed about borrowing Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, and then going from one end of the train to the other, bitch-slapping everyone seated—of course not that I…ehem…think of such obnoxious thoughts—but I’m pretty sure many people have indulged in their fair share of naughty thoughts. This is why Amélie speaks so deeply to me.
In spite of my great love for foreign films I have to say, French films intrigue me—to say the least. They go from being odd to well…disturbing. The Piano Teacher anyone? WTF??? Aside from that, French films also have a peculiar habit of ending the movie as if they ran through their budget. Perhaps it’s the Hollywood rearing within me, but I kind of like my movies to end when the plot comes to a natural conclusion. Happy, sad—I don’t care—just don’t end a film abruptly. I can remember seeing La Vie En Rose (a film that is the paragon of French bizarreness) with a friend of mine in NYC and just feeling confused and amused. I mean the acting was superb, and the underlying story was good—but the execution left something to be desired. When the end did come, having been well-versed in French cinema, me and my friend were ready, but half of the theater remained seated, because they had no idea that the film was over. Such is the air of French film.
But Amélie was different. The story quite simply is beautiful and full of such richness, unlike anything seen in mainstream cinema—especially Hollywood. She is unabashedly quirky—with a distinctive penchant for naughtiness (who doesn’t love her revenge tactics on that mean neighbor). She is also very vulnerable and a hopeless romantic, whose poignancy is incredibly palpable.
What I love most about Amélie and the greatest lesson I feel this film teaches is to embrace the parts of you that least conform to societal expectations. The odd, the slightly off-kilter, and the yes quirky elements of your personality are what makes you distinctive and special. It is what makes your story so great and ultimately beautiful.