Amélie – The uniquely creative French film (2001)

So over the next few weeks I’ve decided to review a few of my favourite French films. French films are always unpredictable, unlike Hollywood films you have no idea who’s going to fall in love with whom and when all seems happy there might be a sudden death! I’ve decided to start with Amelie, the greatest film I have ever seen.

The utterly charming French romantic comedy recreates love and compassion through one young woman who’s destined to mend the lives of people around her. Jean-Pierre Jeunet produces Amelie with genuine pleasure; a film bursting with clever wit and irresistible visuals.

Amelie Poulain had an eccentric childhood, as we learn through flashback, raised by two equally eccentric parents who overprotected her and misdiagnosed her of a rare heart disease. As a result she was home schooled and spent most of her time alone, evolving an active imagination. Amelie now works as a waitress in Paris and indulges in the lives of her friends. When she meets a distinctively unique man by the name of Nino she instantly falls in love and the rest of the film follows her unique journey through love, the rediscovery of self and the search for true happiness.

Audrey Tautou is a flawless, doll-faced woman whose expressions and feelings slowly appear as the film continues. It’s a wonderfully coarse performance for which Tautou appears to originate for. Strengthened by a strong supporting cast of remarkable French actors, including actor Mathieu Kassovitz as Amelie’s mysterious lover, comedian Jamel Debbouze as delightful Lucien and Raymond Dufayel as her fragile neighbour, Audrey is constantly in the limelight.

Theoretically, the film is excellent. Jeunet operates inventive techniques to allow Amelie’s world to come to life. Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography is an appealing illustration of yellows, greens and browns gathered into a beautiful and even dreamlike world. The compositions that escort the scenes are immaculate and remarkably suit all scenes exceptionally well.

Amelie is a heartwarming romance matched by an enchanting atmosphere of whimsy and burning emotions that together create a modern fairy tale. What’s amazing is the way the love story loans some desirable heart and soul to all the visual traces. Here is a rare film that will draw you in through the powerful act of compassion and joy.

500 Days of Summer – The Charming Summer Romance (2009)

(500) Days of Summer is a quirky American romance that designates a sweet yet realistic view of relationships that’s both refreshing and logical. Director Marc Webb plays with time and memories, much as the mind does when recalling the moments that make or break a relationship. (500) Days of Summer is the kind of film that will make believers have faith again – both in Hollywood and in love.

The plot is rather unusual and creative. Rather than simply recounting how boy meets girl and succeeding the stereotypical storyline, it attempts to answer some challenging questions about love. The film initiates on Day 1 when Tom meets his Boss’s new assistant Summer and falls for her instantly; but Day 488, a scene on a park bench which may specify the end of their flourishing relationship. The film remains in what appears as a backwards and forwards skipping pattern in the 500 day history of a wrecked love affair. These are Tom’s personal memories, and one’s memory can play dreadful tricks.

Director Marc Webb envisioned a romantic movie with an unsentimental collection of characters and events. Michael Weber’s perky, imaginatively structured screenplay is given supreme glamour with a clever split screen to show his expectation vs. reality when Tom tries to win Summer back. This delightful comedy floats between the intricacy of love, faith and true happiness.

With his crooked smile, thin physique and unbelievably deep voice Joseph Gordon-Levitt conceals his inner charm as introverted and love-sick Tom Hansen. Zooey Deschanel uses her slightly dreamy, somewhat miserable appearance to mirror her internal charisma as Summer Finn. Their characters seem so ideally matched that it’s a bit of a shock when things don’t work out between them.

(500) Days of Summer presents the perfect resemblance for itself, a greeting card writer who hopelessly falls in love. This film is a heartfelt dose of something wonderful midst a rollercoaster of unpredictably deceiving emotions, tied together with a bit of cinematic charm to capture the most magical moments. Here is a rare film that begins by telling us how it will end.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – British, Indian-Set Romance (2012)

Director John Madden unites the acting talents of Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Judi Dench to create this feel-good comedy romance. Originally adapted from Deborah Moggach’s bestselling novel These Foolish Things, the story of relocated British tourists in India attracts all the usual clichés of foreigners wallowing in an unfamiliar environment. While not deep or demanding, this comedy traces certain serious issues and makes for pleasurable watching.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows the story of seven financially distressed men and women of retired age, allured by an electronic invitation to indulge at the newly opened Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in Jaipur, India. However the luxurious hotel is wreckage managed by young Sonny Kapur who has big dreams for the future of the hotel. As the hotel residents finally adjust to their exotic surroundings, the seniors journey on a path of rediscovery, love and uncertain emotions.

Ol Parker generates the screenplay with a brighter colour arrangement and tone, further reinforcing the vivid Indian atmosphere. Award winning director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) defines the cheerful Indian atmosphere through a variety of camera angles and shots.

All of the performances in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are splendid, but the film’s two male stars are downright surprising. Tom Wilkinson always shows authority but we’ve rarely seen the vulnerability he displays as Graham. Bill Nighy is quick-witted and terribly funny; he reaches new and powerful depths of feeling as a man in touch with boiling rage. Determined and tough Judi Dench lets her love for India shine through her charming character Evelyn. Dev Patel   (Slumdog Millionaire) shows his outgoing personality and unrealistic optimism through Sonny Kapoor, the clumsy manager of the hotel. One by one, each character faces life-changing challenges, which entail that they either embrace or reject the prospect of transformation.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a warm romantic comedy with stunning colours, costume design and a broad assortment of well-known actors. “This visually splendid film delivers the belly laughs while holding afloat the dream that self-reinvention is possible, no matter how late in life” Sunday Telegraph. John Madden creates a remarkable adaptation of the infamous novel with complexity, modesty and faultless acting from the entire cast.