“It’s called a reality check. The last thing Amelie wants.”
Written by Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant, whimsical french film Amelie tells the story of an introverted young woman who; following an odd little discovery in the bathroom of her flat, decides to try and make the lives of those around her a little bit more magical.
Played by actress Audrey Tautou, Amelie is not the sort of character you’d expect from a romantic comedy. Struggling with her own voluntary type of isolation and resulting loneliness, Amelie seems disconnected from the world even as she interacts with the wide range of people she knows.
These other characters in her life become the subject of quiet manipulation and influence, never suspecting Amelie’s involvement is the cause of their lives subtly changing. Amelie in turn seems content with the effects of her interfering, rather than wanting the thanks or praise from her friends and father.
Amelie is shown to have a very active imagination from an early age, as the open montage explains her limited contact with her parents results in her medically trained father wrongly diagnosing her with a heart condition. Believing her unfit for school, Amelie is taught by her school mistress mother, leaving her to grow up relying on her own fantasies for entertainment.
When she grows up, this lack of reliance on others for support and companionship finds her instead taking pleasure in the smaller, often dismissed little things. Dipping her hand into a sack of grain, skipping stones across a river, looking back at people’s faces in the dark of a cinema as they watch a film…
It is these character traits, however small and insignificant to the overall narrative or plot of the story, make Amelie so memorable.
In my last blog post about my Camp Nano novel, I was slightly concerned that my originally planned main character simply wasn’t holding my interest as much as another in the story. As fellow writer and blogger Sarah Cradit pointed out, perhaps there was a reason for this. I think that reason has a lot to do with how many small details; like the ones we are shown early on in Amelie’s story, I discovered very quickly about my other main character as I wrote about him.
I love Amelie’s character so much because I was able to connect emotionally with her, and if you’re expecting your entire story ride on the emotions and subsequent choices of that character, having them easy to relate to is important.
This isn’t a review of the film, and so I won’t go any further into explanations of it apart from Amelie’s introduction and background, but I can’t recommend it enough.
Although my current novel is nothing like the film, I find studying the characters I become attached to helps me think about how I go about writing my own. And how my future readers may connect with them as I do with Amelie.
Are there any character’s you find yourself particularly attached to? And has that study of their traits influenced the way you write your own?