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, who 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.
This film provides examples of:
Ambiguous Disorder: Lucien. He's referred to as "slow", and seems to have a mild mental handicap.
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: Inverted. When Amélie daydreams about Nino coming in through her beaded doorway and the beads rustle, she turns around and rather than relieved to see a cat, is understandably disappointed to find her cat.
Chekhov's Gunman: Amélie's air stewardess friend Philomène, who is introduced just as one of the other regulars of The Two Windmills. She's the one who's been taking the pictures of the gnome in different parts of the world. She jokingly tells Amélie she got the name "Snow White" for it.
Philomène's cat applies is a minor example, too. See above for Cat Scare.
Cloudcuckoolander: Amélie, most prominently, and most of the movie's characters are either slightly bonkers or completely nuts.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: Amélie pays back cruelty with cruelty throughout her life. When she is a child, a neighbor fools her 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. As an adult, she 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.
Cult Soundtrack: The soundtrack, composed by Yann Tiersen, received rave reviews and even went platinum in Canada. Its songs are still used as atmospheric music in a wide range of media.
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.
Disabled Character, Disabled Actor: Lucien has one arm. Jamel Debbouze, who plays him, has a withered right hand which he consistently keeps hidden in a pocket. It's conceivable that, while the character of Lucien being "slow" was always the main excuse given by the grocer for being such a giant Jerk Ass to him, the missing arm was more of a way to explain Jamel's recognizable posture in-universe that they decided to throw in.
For Happiness: Amélie's acts of kindness to make those around her happy.
Forged Message: One of Amelie's neighbor is bitter that her husband left her for another woman, then died in a plane crash. So Amelie creates a fake letter to convince the neighbor that the husband wanted to reconcile with her, had left his mistress, and was on his way home when the plane crashed.
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 ambiguously-handicapped and one-armed employee.
Gay Paree: But of course, and deliberately more so than in real life.
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.
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)...
Metaphorgotten: The metaphorical comparison of the unfinished girl in the painting to Amélie quickly disintegrates when she gets fed up with Raymond's prying.
On a meta level, the painting also serves to illustrate a need to move on, resulting in Dufayel finally painting other pictures, after his scene with Lucien reveals how unhealthy his Renoir fixation is getting.
Narrative Filigree: The Movie. Amélie frequently delves into irrelevant events, such as marking Amélie's conception occurring at the exact time that a fly is crushed, that wine glasses "dance" on a moving tablecloth unseen, and that an elderly gentleman erases his deceased friend from his notebook of phone numbers. Additionally, almost every named character (or animal in the case of Philomène's cat) is noted as liking or disliking something in order to give detail to the world. The minor subplot about the death of Princess Diana also qualifies.
Parental Neglect: A non-malicious variation. Amélie's father was so distant that, when he gave her occasional check-ups, the rare contact with her father would make her heart race; since he believed this was a result of a heart condition, he had her home-schooled by her neurotic mother, forcing Amélie to hide in her imagination.
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, and 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. invoked