Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tatou), born to a strict, hysterical mother and a reclusive father, was indirectly diagnosed with a heart defect as a child. Believing it to be too dangerous for her to attend school, her mother taught her at home. She was thus prevented from interacting with other children and as a result became shy and coped with her loneliness by retreating into her vivid imagination.
Life becomes more lonely when her mother dies, and Amélie leaves home as a young adult and becomes a waitress. The Café she works in has eccentricity in its employees as well as regular customers, and after a few unsuccessful relationships Amélie is content with her work there and living in her own world, taking pleasure from all the small things in life.
Amélie finds a hidden compartment in a wall of her apartment, and within childhood memorabilia. Amélie decides to find its owner and return it to him, and if her act of kindness achieves a satisfactory result, Amélie vows to become and devote her life in doing good things for other people.
At first the search for Dominique Bredoteau is frustrating and pointless, but Raymond Dufayel (Serge Merlin), a painter in Amélie’s building, helps her by pointing out that the correct spelling of Dominique’s surname would be “Bretodeau”. With this information Amélie easily find the owner of the lost merchandise, and when he is moved to tears Amélie is happy to embark on her new found purpose.
Amélie secretly helps people around her, and her life becomes highly entertaining, although she is still in a bubble. When Mr. Dufayel discovers Amélie is starting to become interested into a quirky young man she keeps bumping into at the train station, he encourages Amélie to pursue him. Amélie starts a game with Nino Quincampoix (Mathieu Kassovitz), and he soon starts searching avidly for her.
Will Amélie overcome her shyness to take the leap to meet Nino?
Nino is late. Amelie can only see two explanations. 1 – he didn’t get the photo. 2 – before he could assemble it, a gang of bank robbers took him hostage. The cops gave chase. They got away… but he caused a crash. When he came to, he’d lost his memory. An ex-con picked him up, mistook him for a fugitive, and shipped him to Istanbul. There he met some Afghan raiders who too him to steal some Russian warheads. But their truck hit a mine in Tajikistan. He survived, took to the hills, and became a Mujaheddin. Amelie refuses to get upset for a guy who’ll eat borscht all his life in a hat like a tea cozy.
Zoë noticed that I have been having such a run of movies with the French in and it is really true. After seeing and loving Midnight in Paris, I had a big yen to watch another feel good movie. Amélie certainly fits the bill. It is quirky and fun, and the romance aspect isn’t overbearing. It had a bit of a slow first half hour but after that the movie developed really well. Audrey Tatou and Mathieu Kassovitz are both very interesting actors and their portrayals were very well done. They had great chemistry and I thoroughly enjoyed their unorthodox courtship.
This movie is definitely about the triumph of shy people. Amélie’s social awkwardness was endearing and sad at the same time. I really enjoyed her elaborate plans and her clear views on who is good and who is bad.
Recommendation: If you don’t mind subtitles, or if you speak French, give this a try because you will most likely enjoy it!