Amelie (2001) or How Creatives Make Better Lovers
On September 3rd 1973, at 6:28pm and 32 seconds, a bluebottle fly capable of 14,670 wing beats a minute landed on Rue St Vincent, Montmartre. At the same moment, on a restaurant terrace nearby, the wind magically made two glasses dance unseen on a tablecloth. Meanwhile, in a 5th-floor flat, 28 Avenue Trudaine, Paris 9, returning from his best friend's funeral, Eugène Colère erased his name from his address book. At the same moment, a sperm with one X chromosome, belonging to Raphaël Poulain, made a dash for an egg in his wife Amandine. Nine months later, Amélie Poulain was born. (Amelie 2001)Amelie is an unpredictable love story between two oddballs. Amelie the waitress, who counts the cities orgasms from the rooftop of her building by night and waitresses by night. Nino, on the other hand is a porn store clerk by night and a collector of destroyed photo booth photos. The romantic fit between the two is obvious. Both are creative empaths strained by their awareness of their own alienation. They feel torn between their ability read the intricacies of people and society, yet are unable to navigate the very same terrain to meet the demands of their passion. What is this romance between two disconnected souls lost in the word and spinning around satisfactions drain?
The story centers on Amelie’s sense of disconnection and desire for wholeness. Raised by a socially award father and a bitter mother she acquires the neurotic tendencies of both. Obsessive, yet sensitive. Respectful, yet revengeful. Amelie’s sense of antimony fluctuates. One the one hand, her self-esteem is fragile. Nino arrives, but see is too frozen to speak, yet as soon as he leaves she is hatching a new elaborate scheme to gain his time and attention.
The culmination of Amelie’s plot revolves around leaving messages in torn photos where Nino is likely to find them, leveraging the mysterious photo booth engineer and leaving a bread trail that captures Nino’s imagination. The whimsical and creative nature of these tactics create a cat and mouse game that reverses the typical gender roles of seduction. Amelie is the cat and Nino is the mouse. What kind of love is this? A teased love? A catch and release romance? A love never quite reaching fulfillment until all is about to be lost. Alain Badiou in In Praise of love argues that authentic love is constructed in two phases:
1. EncounterLove always starts with an encounter. And I would give this the quasi-metaphysical status of an event...Love involves a separation of disjunction based on the simple difference between two people and their infinite subjectivities. (Badiou 2009)
What does Badiou mean when he says love is construction? What does separation and disjunction have to do with making out? Both statements are based on the Lacanian theory that “there is no sexual relationship.” What Lacan means by this is not that people do not have sex or that genitalia do not have a physical relationship, but relationship qua the imaginary frame work two (or more) people use to form and perpetuate romance does not have the property of existence. Which is not to say that the practice of romancing doesn’t function to create connection between two people but that there is no intrinsic grounding for relationship. Simply put people in love are making shit up as they go along.2. CreationLove isn’t simply about two people meeting and their inward-looking relationship: it is a construction, a life that is being made, no longer from the perspective of one but the perspective of two. Love cannot be reduced to the first encounter, because it is a construction. (Badiou 2009)
Romance has a kind of history that obfuscates lack of truth and discontinuous scripts. All throughout human history people have been falling in love and consummating their feelings by fucking. But, what is the lineage from Adam and Eve to Romeo and Juliet to Amelie and Nino to online dating? Its all to easy to wrap these different stories into a ball and make sense out of the plurality loves of as if they were fully exhaustive narrative of human romance. But what we loose sight of in this oversimplification is the discontinuous nature of romance, how its changed over time, and well… the non-white non-European and nondominant histories of hooking up.
To return to the encounter, Amelie and Nino confront each other in an existential abyss. Eye contact is made. Feelings spur their gut causing butterflies. Fear and ecstasy spiral serpentine. The real intervenes. And Amelie is caught, if only for the briefest moment in the dark smile of the soul. What is this boy Nino? What is this storm raging inside my belly? Love in in its initial encounter is raw and untamed. Almost phantasmagoric, like a psychophrenic’s dream. Reality becomes dislodged. What we think we know about ourselves and our place in the word enters a war. What must be done?
Love is what fills the absence of a sexual relationship. Love is what comes to replace that non-relationship. (Badiou 2009)To create love is to calm the waves, and narrate feeling. Give words the inexplicable eruption of the demand for the other. The trick here is that to consummate this new-found love, one must avoid infatuating by co-creating. Pairing creations though negation, war and compromising. Because the encounter with the other is the encounter with the translatable observations of the other’s behaviors and the undecipherability of the other’s why.
Creation splits the difference and harmonizes relational inexistence, so that it functions to maintain fidelity to the creation. The measure of this harmony is the couple’s ability maintain fidelity and to adapt creation to interventions of the real. Those moments which defy creation power to glue fantasy together. Tragedy and disagreements. Will Amelie and Nino survive? We may never know without a sequel, but case can be made that their ability to co-create is unrivaled in modern cinema. They survive the encounter. Confronted each other in the abyss and made due. And that is more than half the battle. Now they have to live with their love.
In Love, fidelity signifies [the] extended victory: the randomness of an encounter defeated day after day through the invention of what will endure, through the birth of a world. (Badiou 2009)References:
In Praise of Love by Alain Badiou (2009)