Amélie, originally titled Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain in French, is a whimsical romantic comedy set in Montmartre, France starring Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz. It follows the life of a shy and somewhat reclusive waitress who goes around trying to change the lives of those around her while attempting to deal with and understand her own self-imposed isolation from others. Amélie has won several awards including Best Film at the European Film Awards, four César awards, and two British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards. It is also still the highest grossing French-language film released in the United States.
Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) was home schooled by her emotionally distant parents who kept her away from other children under an incorrect diagnosis of a heart defect, leading her to live in a world of fantasy in order to cope with loneliness. Her mother then dies when a Canadian tourist falls on her during the tourist’s suicide attempt, causing her father to become withdrawn from social life and even more emotionally isolated from Amélie. As an adult, Amélie is a shy waitress in a café in Montremont who has a few regular and eccentric customers. Her life is mostly made up of small pleasures as she has given up on romantic relationships after several disappointments. In her apartment one night, she discovers a small tin box full of children’s toys and photographs and decides to make it her personal mission in life to return this slice of childhood to whoever it once belonged too. After this reunion with a collection of things from his childhood, the box’s owner endeavours to reconnect with his estranged daughter and grandson. Amélie then decides to attempt to alter the course of the lives of the people around her to grant them the small happinesses that she is content with. Over the course of her adventures she discovers an eccentric man named Nino Quincampoix (Mathieu Kassovitz) who collects the discarded photographs of passport photo machines inside of train stations. She grows to have feelings for him, but is unable to confront him or her feelings because of her shyness. Eventually she grows to overcome this and becomes able to attempt to love again by the film’s conclusion.
Amélie is a beautiful and whimsical romance that is everything a romantic comedy should be, and definitely not another case of “will they or won’t they with a few assorted sex jokes to keep the audience from becoming bored and leaving” that has plagued the genre for the last few decades. It also is centered around a woman who is completely content with her life without romance but simply encounters the idea and becomes happy to integrate it into her existing life. Rather than someone who is unsatisfied without a relationship and is constantly seeking one out. In addition to being somewhat unique for a romantic comedy, it is heart warming in of itself. Anyone looking for a good date movie, or just a movie that can scrub away cynicism on the heart while still being able to give a sardonic laugh should watch this. Fans of the show “Pushing Daisies” will especially enjoy this film as the creator of the show was heavily inspired by Amélie to create the same spirit of whimsy and magic in a more or less realistic non-fantasy setting. The show’s creator, Bryan Fuller has said of Amélie, “All the things I love are represented in that movie,” and, “It’s a movie that will make me cry based on kindness as opposed to sadness.”