Has There Ever Been a More Joyful Movie Than Amélie?

Try putting pure joy into words. The English language has plenty of worthy adjectives and beautiful metaphors but nothing quite comes close to actually, perfectly capturing what it feels like to be completely filled with happiness. To reverberate with delight. To float on cloud nine. No, to adequately capture that feeling, you need more than just words. You need pictures, you need sounds, you need story. You need… Amélie.

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the 2001 fantasy romance recently got a limited edition Blu-ray steelbook release, and it felt like the perfect opportunity to revisit a film that has long been one of my personal favorites. I saw Amélie in theaters when it was first released and instantly became obsessed. It had, and still has, an energy, attitude, and voice all its own. In the years that followed, I watched it often.

But, it’s been a lot of years since then and to be honest, I hadn’t seen it again in a while. During that time, the world has changed. I’ve changed. And when I popped in Amélie this week it hit me in ways I never imagined. From the very first moments, where the film starts to talk about random acts of beauty happening simultaneously all over France, a rush of emotions began flooding through me. Could it have been the second glass of wine I was enjoying? For sure. And yet from the first frame of Amélie you know you’re in for something special. Something that, if you’ve already experienced it, is almost more exciting because you know what you’re in for: a cinematic roller coaster ride of laughs, love, and elation.

Image: Miramax

For anyone who maybe hasn’t seen the film, Amélie follows the life of an introverted woman (played with a contagious, infectious sweetness by Audrey Tautou) who finds purpose by helping others via random acts of kindness. Amélie’s actions make everyone around her happy, but she’s still sad, so she tries to employ the same tactics on her crush, a man named Nico played by Mathieu Kassovitz.

Amélie is so much more than just that plot though. It’s a celebration of life. A reminder that the good you put in the world can and will come back to you. As Amélie moves through Jeunet’s vibrant, lush Paris, you can’t help but smile the entire time. The film is hilarious, sweet, heartbreaking, and reaffirming, often all at once. Every single character is completely relatable but wholly unique and specific. Each line of dialogue or piece of information seems random but also totally accurate and purposeful. Then, on top of all that, Jeunet weaves in moments of fantasy enriching the world even further. Paintings move, bedside figures speak, and people melt into the floor, all adding a level of wonder to the already stunning world. You simply can’t watch Amélie and not feel fantastic. It captures so many hyper-specific but ultra-relatable slices of life while also building a world full of magic and wonder.

Image for article titled Has There Ever Been a More Joyful Movie Than Amélie?

Image: Miramax

Those feelings coursed through me for the entire rewatched. I grinned, I laughed, I often wiped away tears as moments I love and quoted growing up flickered by. Then, in the end, when Jeunet really amps things up, I became a blubbering mess. Most of that was because the movie does such a fantastic job of making you love everyone and everything happening on screen in ways 99% of other movies would never dream of. But a small part was also just a reflection of the world today compared to almost 25 years ago. Things are always messed up. People are always sad. But watching a movie this happy, this positive, this obsessed with the beauty of life made me think about the good things in my life more than I usually do, and that was a gift.

Life is hard, but it can be quite beautiful too. And that’s especially the case if you use some of it to watch Amélie. It’s a perfect movie. A celebration of all that’s possible and good in the world told in a way you’ve never seen before and may never see again. I loved it before but, rewatching it again, I love it more than I even remembered.

The new Amélie steelbook is available here.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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