Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dual/Duel Review: Amelie Poulain vs. Edith Piaf

Dual/Duel reviews are an online smackdown between two books, movies, games, podcasts, etc. etc. that I think are interesting to compare, contrast, and comment on. For a list of other dual/duel reviews, go here. Also, this is more of the leftovers from Europe this week.

Inspired by our trip to Paris we watched some Paris-based movies, Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (known in America simply as Amelie) and La môme (known in America as La Vie en Rose). Both movies are French productions, set (at least in part) in Montmartre (where we had our hotel), and award-winning movies.

The first film is a bit of a fantasy about Amelie, a girl who grows up with overprotective and slightly bonkers parents. She retreats into a world of her own imaging to cope, and continues to do so as an adult. A chance discovery of a hidden box of toys sets her on the path to connect with others in a more meaningful way, including a potential boyfriend. The movie is very light-hearted and charming. Amelie herself is irresistibly charming. It's hard not to root for her. The movie is a fun, life-affirming fantasy.

The second film is a biography of French singer Edith Piaf. Her life story is told in a mixed-up chronological order. She is born to a circus performer and an alcoholic mother. She is raised at different times by these two, in addition to her grandmother who runs a brothel. Piaf's life is full of tragedy and heartache (some of which is self-inflicted). The story of her rise to fame and subsequent efforts to keep performing holds the viewers' interest but ultimately is full of lots of misery. She's somewhat sympathetic if ultimately unlikeable, as is Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane. I can't help drawing a parallel between the two character and wonder at why I like the movie about Kane more than this one about Piaf. But that's an argument for another post. The movie is a gritty historical biography.

I enjoyed Amelie a great deal more than La Vie en Rose, which in a certain sense makes it a better movie. If I had to rewatch one, Amelie would win that match-up several times. The movie has a more artistic visual style and the likable protagonist is much easier to watch. So the win goes to Amelie Poulain!



No comments:

Post a Comment