Directed by: Mike Leigh
Written by: Mike Leigh
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Alexis Zegerman, and Karina Fernandez
Impossible would be one way to describe Poppy (Sally Hawkins), the flamboyantly optimistic center of Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky. With that one word, you can take her as impossibly happy, annoying, or over the top. She is all of these things and more, as you and she both learn during the course of this off-beat life lesson comedy.
Hawkins and Leigh both approach this complicated woman with true zest and unapologetic heart. This performance is a work of art inspired by a terrific actress and this director’s unique method. Leigh casts his movies with only story in mind, and then works with his actors to craft improvised moments and write out the actual screenplay.
Directed by: Jean Pierre-Jeunet
Written by: Guillaume Laurant & Jean Pierre-Jeunet
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Serge Merlin, and Clotilde Mollet
Deep despair, insightful narcissism, impossibly cultured people- these are all things associated with French cinema. Though our overseas friends gave us the new wave, these things rode the surf as well. American cinema has tried since the birth of the French new wave to implement it as carelessly as such French staples as Breathless and The 400 Blows. What a strange, wonderful phenomenon it is that French filmmaker Jean Pierre-Jeunet turns French cinema on its head yet again with Amélie.
Amélie is as free-spirited, uplifting, and gracious as the protagonist its title speaks of (Audrey Tautou). Rarely does a movie tackle optimism as straightforwardly as this, and it’s something new for the often dark and brooding films associated with French cinema. During its more than two hour run time, Pierre-Jeunet’s film manages to make a mundane, normal life seem enthralling thanks to a hilarious, charming and original screenplay and some of the best visuals the cinema has ever seen.