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Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain ("The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain" -- released as Amélie in English) is a 2001 French film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, starring Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz.
The plot follows Amélie, a lonely young Parisian waitress with simple pleasures, as she decides to become a sort of guardian angel to those around her: reuniting a stranger with a box of his childhood treasures, gently prompting her retired father to follow his dreams of world travel, matchmaking café regulars, playing practical jokes on a greengrocer who's being cruel to his assistant, writing love letters to a woman whose husband left her, etc. During her adventures, she meets an odd young man called Nino, whom we quickly realize is her soulmate -- but she is too shy to make direct contact. She must find the courage to fix her own life as she's been fixing those of others.
Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain provides examples of:
- Blithe Spirit: Amélie's mission after finding the box of trinkets is to affect the lives of those around her in a positive way.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the closing seconds, plus frequent asides.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Amélie's games with Nino, ostensibly designed to whet his interest in her, are in fact because she's painfully shy and terrified of approaching him. The two times she does actually set up an honest meeting to approach him, she freezes up and lets the moment slip past.
- Cat Scare: Subverted. When Amelie daydreams about Nino coming in through her beaded doorway and the beads rustle, she turns around and is understandably disappointed to find her cat.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Amélie, most prominently, and most of the movie's characters are either slightly bonkers or completely nuts.
- Completely Different Title: The original French title translates to "The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain", but in English-speaking countries the film was released simply as Amélie.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Amélie pays back cruelty with cruelty throughout her life. A neighbor fools Amélie into thinking that her camera causes accidents, so as punishment she sits on his roof, listening to the football game on the radio and unplugging his TV connection at vital moments. She also plays pranks on the grocer to torment him for his mean-spirited treatment of his assistant.
- Cool Old Guy: Raymond Dufayel, the shut-in in Amélie's building.
- One of the most awesome things ever about Mr. Dufayel is that he's able to be completely spot-on about everything that's going on in Amélie's head and even mentions uncomfortable truths about her and her life. Throughout the movie, he almost becomes a guru of sorts for her.
- Digital Bikini: When the movie was shown on the satellite TV channel Ovation TV, a bikini was photoshopped on the topless dancer Nino asks to cover for him at work.
- The Fantastic Trope of Wonderous Titles: The French title, at least.
- For Happiness: Amélie's acts of kindness to make those around her happy
- Gaslighting: Amélie sneaks into her grocer's apartment and subtly messes with his stuff, changing the size of his shoes, the numbers on his speed dial, etc... to punish him for mocking his "mentally challenged" and one-armed employee.
- Gay Paree: But of course, and deliberately moreso than in real life, which leads to some Unfortunate Implications, such as the Monochrome Casting.
- I Have This Friend: Oddly, done by the advice-giver. Raymond notes that Amélie is too shy to talk about herself. He gently coaxes her into it by pretending to ask for motives behind a figure in his painting, and deliberately suggesting ones similar to what he's seen of her.
- Imagine Spot: Used a lot, like when Amélie pictures herself as Zorro, or when Nino is late and her extended train of thought leads her to believe that he'd been captured and taken hostage by the Afghani Mujahidin, whom he joins and is now living in Afghanistan raising goats.
- Karmic Trickster: The role Amélie takes in dealing with the grocer's treatment of Lucien.
- Like You Were Dying: Inverted; it's Dufayel, old and sick, who prods young and vibrant Amélie into living her life.
- Love Letter Lunacy: Taken Up to Eleven by Amélie, who just can't get past her worry of being rejected by Nino, so she mixes in anonymous phone calls and even a ransom of his photo album.
- Magic Realism: Everywhere, from the talking photographs to Amélie watching an old-style newsreel on her own life (arguably a Shout-Out to Citizen Kane and of course Mother Teresa and Florence Nightingale)...
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Amélie makes this her life's work.
- Metaphorgotten: The metaphor of the unfinished girl in the painting to Amélie is quickly forgotten when she gets fed up with Raymond's prying.
- However, the painting also serves to illustrate a need to move on, resulting Dufayel finally going on to paint other pictures.
- Modesty Bedsheet: It was more like a Modesty Person. Both scenes where Amélie was naked, she had a person over her.
- Monochrome Casting: Paris in general is full of Arabs and Africans (about 1 in 5 butcheries there are halal) and the movie is also set in Montmartre, an area of Paris with a large immigrant population -- but with the exceptions of Jamel Debbouze as the one token Arab and the numerous minorities depicted in the photographs in Nino's book, the cast is pretty much exclusively white.
- Narrator: The narrator will tell you about the plot, the characters, and even the character's likes and dislikes. These are given nods and shout outs almost every time the character in question appears on-screen. A good example of this is Bretodeau, whom the narrator tells us likes snitching the chicken oysters while fixing dinner, and is later shown at his daughter's house fixing dinner for them and her son, giving the boy the oysters.
- Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Amélie tells her dad that she's had "two heart attacks, an abortion, did crack... while I was pregnant" and other than that, she's fine. These things didn't really happen: she's just checking if he's paying attention. Which he's not.
- Overly Long Gag: Amélie's imagined second reason as to why Nino is late.
- Recycled Soundtrack: A good deal of the soundtrack is taken from Yann Tiersen's other albums.
- Sex Montage: In one scene, Amélie amuses herself by wondering "how many people are having orgasms right now?" She correctly guesses "Fifteen!" after a montage of every single one.
- Spiritual Successor: Pushing Daisies.
- Sugar Bowl: Played straight with the setting, but averted with the people.
- Paris is shown to be a beautiful, whimsical, and most of all, extremely clean place. While Paris is, indeed, a lively and wonderful city, it's also quite shabby in many places. The production meticulously cleaned up their shooting locations to make it look more colorful and idealized. We see very little of the poverty and gang graffiti that pervades the city. They also strictly avoided very modern locations to give Paris a more quaint and old-fashioned feel.
- In spite of the film's overall sweet tone, it does have an undercurrent of nastiness. Many people that Amélie meets are total jerks, and she plays cruel tricks on them. Also, few characters get a happy ending. Many of the people that Amélie helps are still stuck with their old problems at the end of the film. The most she can do is give them a brief moment of pleasure. Also, none of the jerks she punishes are shown to change their ways.
- That Cloud Looks Like...
- Twitchy Eye: Amélie's mother, cited as the sign of a nervous person.