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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, 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.

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In 2015, the film got a Broadway adaptation starring Phillipa Soo as the title character.


Amélie provides examples of:

  • Always Identical Twins: A pair of elderly women twins are seen buying food at the local fruit stand. They also Finish Each Other's Sentences.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Lucien. He's referred to as "slow", and seems to have a mild mental handicap.
    • Amélie herself comes off to many as having some kind of disorder - either autism (explaining her general quirkiness, her obvious aversion to and often misunderstanding of other people, her sensory hypersensitivity and her subdued expression) or some form of Schizophrenia (explaining... just about everything else). Probably intentionally, however, the film shows just enough evidence to contradict both opinions, leaving the question of Amélie's mental state of health unclear.
  • Anywhere but Their Lips: Played with during the final kissing scene.
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  • Asexuality: Possibly Amélie. She shows a romantic interest in Nino, but it's told and shown via flashback that she tried out sex a few times and didn't find it particularly interesting or worthwhile.
  • Aside Glance: Plenty from Amélie.
    • She does one after her coup to return the photo album to Nino succeeded.
    • At the end, Nino and Amelie are shown riding down the street on a motorcycle, teasing one another playfully and generally being so deeply in love that they are completely oblivious to the world around them. Then, for a second, they both turn and make faces at the camera.
  • Asshole Victim: The grocer. Ho boy, the grocer.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • The narrator announces that the following event will change Amelie's life forever. We see Amelie reacting to TV footage about Lady Di's death and it looks like this will be the driving force behind her change but then the scene goes on to show that it's her Dramatic Drop that triggers the Inciting Incident.
    • Nino gets one. While he is waiting for Amelie at the cafe, a beautiful girl walks in, smiling in his general direction. But then she is revealed to be somebody else's date.
  • Birds of a Feather: Amelie and Nino are quiet little oddballs who are very kind but aren't all that good at making friends.
  • Blithe Spirit: Amélie's mission after finding the box of trinkets is to affect the lives of those around her in a positive way.
  • Bully Magnet: Apparently, Nino was this at school.
  • Cacophony Cover Up: Amelie tries to cover up Georgette's Immodest Orgasm with the steamer of the coffee machine.
  • 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.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Madame Suzanne's backstory. She fell from a horse that ended her circus career.
  • 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 Café des Deux Moulins. 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 as a minor example, too. See above for Cat Scare.
  • The Chessmaster: An unexpected example. Amélie is the less-common benevolent version of this trope, manipulating people and events in such a way as to bring them happiness without ever revealing her intentions (or sometimes even her involvement).
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Amélie, most prominently, and most of the movie's characters are either slightly bonkers or completely nuts.
  • Collector of the Strange: Nino. Before he started gathering ID photos, he collected footprints and recorded funny laughs.
  • Coming and Going: In the opening scene, a man crosses the name of his recently deceased friend out of his little black book at the exact same moment as the title character's conception (only the sperm entering the egg is shown).
  • Compartment Shot: We see Amelie reaching for that treasure box from inside the wall.
  • 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 Monsieur 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.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Joseph, who possessively smothers any woman he is interested in. This causes him to stalk Gina, and sabotage his potential relationship with Georgette.
  • 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.
  • Death by Looking Up: Amelie's mother meets this fate, courtesy of a suicidal Canadian tourist jumping off a church roof and landing on 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.
  • Dope Slap: In of his Kick the Dog moments, Collignon slaps Lucien on the back his head.
  • Dramatic Drop: The movie uses this to get the plot started, as Amelie reacts in shock to hearing news of Princess Diana's death and drops the lid of her perfume flask.
  • Driver Faces Passenger: A pet peeve of Amélie when watching movies in cinema.
  • Driver Faces Passenger: One of the things Amelie does not like are drivers in American films who don't watch the road. Cut to a scene from the American film Father's Little Dividend where the actor drives a desk and looks at his passenger 99% of the time. In the DVD director's commentary, Jean-Pierre Jeunet comments on how difficult it is to find a clip exhibiting this trope when you're specifically looking for one.
  • Empathic Environment: It starts raining when young Amelie's golf fish gets dumped into the creek.
  • The Fantastic Trope of Wonderous Titles: The French title, at least.
  • Feedback Rule: The intercom at Nino's sex shop is giving off a feedback sound whenever it's being operated.
  • 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.
  • For Happiness: Amélie's acts of kindness to make those around her happy.
  • The Freelance Shame Squad: The laughing crowd in front of Collignon's shop after Amelie delivers her joke about him not having a heart.
  • Friendless Background: Both Amélie and Nino. Amélie was homeschooled, while Nino was bullied by the other children.
  • 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.
    • On his English-language DVD commentary, Jeunet jokes that in real life Paris is totally horrible, except for his native Montmartre.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Amelie meets a female Dominique Bretodeau who seems to take quite a liking in her.
  • Glass Slipper: Amélie has a Love at First Sight moment when bumping into Nino at a Parisian subway station. He doesn't notice her at all and quickly rides off with his scooter. However, a photo album falls off when he takes a sharp corner and Amélie picks it up. It helps her to get in contact with Nino, who, after noticing his loss, leaves stickers around the station with his phone number.
  • Good Feels Good: Pretty much Amelie's motivation for the bulk of the movie.
  • Guilt Complex: Young Amelie temporarily believes she caused all misery in the world after her neighbor planted that idea in her head.
  • Helping Granny Cross the Street: In one scene Amelie is helping a blind man across the street and even further.
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": Amelie has multiple Imagine Spot moments where she watches documentaries about Lady Diana and puts herself into them. While one such spot obviously leads to Amelie getting a Downer Ending, she nonetheless becomes a Mary Sue in those spots as the documentary narration makes her into a selfless martyr that the world can't go on without.
  • A Hero Is Born: The movie begins with the conception of the heroine.
  • Homeschooled Kids: Amélie, since her father believed she had a heart condition.
  • Hypochondria: Georgette is a straight example in combination with Sickly Neurotic Geek, given all the medicine she's witnessed taking, while Amélie herself ends up an accidental example because her excitement over paternal contact is mistaken for a heart condition.
  • 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 Afghan Mujahideen, whom he joins and is now living in Afghanistan raising goats.
  • Immodest Orgasm:
    • When Amélie wonders "how many couples are having orgasms right now?"
    • Joseph gives Georgette one of the immodest kind. See Right Through the Wall.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Collignon needs one after the shenanigans Amelie puts him through. Unfortunately, the liquor is spiked with a handful of salt resulting in him performing a Spit Take.
  • Informed Attractiveness: In Nino's dream, the headshots in one of his pictures come alive and argue over whether Amelie is all that attractive. Some will only say that she's rather pretty, but another insists that she's beautiful. Interestingly, the character was written for Emily Watson and was probably going to be somewhat Hollywood Homely before Audrey Tautou was cast.
  • I Want My Mommy!: After Collignon gets sufficiently gaslighted, he decides to call his mother.
  • Karmic Trickster: The role Amélie takes in dealing with the grocer's treatment of Lucien.
  • Knuckle Cracking: Gina, Amelie's co-worker, takes a liking to this activity.
  • Lady Drunk: Madeleine Wallace.
  • Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: When Amelie and Nino finally get together, Lucien keeps filming their fondling from across the street, only for Dufayel to tell him off.
  • Lies to Children: Amelie's neighbor makes the gullible young girl believe that by operating her camera she was responsible for a car crash. He gets his comeuppance soon enough.
  • Like You Were Dying: Inverted; it's Dufayel, old and sick, who prods young and vibrant Amélie into living her life.
  • Loon with a Heart of Gold: Amélie is a Cloud Cuckoolander with strange fantasies whose life goal is to bring people happiness (in accordance with her personality, she does it in bizarre ways).
  • Love at First Sight: Implied with Amelie who fell in love with Nino when she saw him by the photo machine at the metro station.
  • Lustful Melt: Amelie dissolved into tears because of heartbreak after she Cannot Spit It Out and Nino leaves the cafe.
  • 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.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: A large portion of the first act is relating to Amelie's childhood, in which she begins showing her defining characteristics.
  • Missing Mom: Amelie loses her mother to an accident early in her life. Her death leaves Amelie behind with an absent-minded father.
  • Missing the Good Stuff: A young Amelie gets her revenge on an unpleasant neighbor by sneaking onto his roof with a portable radio during an important soccer match and pulling the plug on his TV antenna whenever a goal is about to be scored. It drives him crazy.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Joseph sees Gina dropping a note into Nino's pocket and assumes that she was giving Nino her number while it actually was a note from Amelie.
  • Modest Orgasm: During the sequence when Amélie is imagining how many people are in the midst of orgasm ("fifteen!"), the last woman's O sound is somewhere between a gasp and a squeak.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: It was more like a Modesty Human Shield. Both scenes where Amélie was naked, she had a person over her.
  • Monochrome Casting: The film is set in Montmartre, an area of Paris with a large immigrant population, but the cast, with the exception of Jamel Debouze, is exclusively white.
  • Monochrome Past: The flashbacks to Nino's childhood are in black and white.
  • Mountaintop Healthcare: In one Imagine Spot, Amelie sees herself as a red-cross nurse in the Alpes pushing Dufayel around in a wheelchair.
  • Ms. Imagination: Amelie has created an imaginary world to make up for the lack of friends.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Amelie gives to the beggars and is nice to the handicapped.
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Amélie tells her dad that she's had "two heart attacks and had to have an abortion because I 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.
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Amelie's father is distracted because his favorite gnome went missing and sent him pictures from various cities around the world. So he fails Amelie's test of attention:
    Amélie: I had two heart attacks and had to have an abortion because I did crack while I was pregnant. Other than that, I'm fine.
    Father (absent-minded): Good.
  • One-Track-Minded Artist: Dufayel is in the business of repainting Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party over and over.
  • Overly Long Gag: Amélie's imagined second reason as to why Nino is late.
  • Painting the Medium: The mother's Twitchy Eye is pointed out with on-screen text.
  • 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.
  • Pay Phone: Amelie, in a nearby cafe, calls a payphone next to a passer-by to make him walk into the phone booth and find a present she's left there for him. She plays a similar trick on Nino later.
  • Photo Booth Montage: Amelie is looking through other people's discarded photos from such a booth, which Nino has collected into an album.
  • Photo Booth Montage: Played with. The film has a montage of Amelie looking through other people's discarded photos from such a booth, which her love interest has collected into an album.
  • Photo Montage: The Creative Closing Credits feature Nino's carefully compiled photo album, now with pictures of all the film's characters added.
  • Photo Montage: The credits feature Nino's carefully compiled photo album, now with pictures of all the film's characters added.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The grocer Collignon, constantly picking on the mentally impaired Lucien and calling him names.
  • Race for Your Love: Aborted. In the final act when Amelie can't spot Nino outside her house, she rushes for the door to chase after him but he is already standing in front of her door.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Amélie, especially on the poster.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: A good deal of the soundtrack is taken from Yann Tiersen's other albums.
  • Red/Green Contrast: The film uses red and green predominantly in its color palette, with the color blue used to make objects stand out.
  • Right Now Montage: "How many couples are having an orgasm right now?"
  • Right Through the Wall: Georgette and Joseph in the café bathroom, making all the cups and crockery rattle. Amélie covers up the sound of The Immodest Orgasm by running the espresso machine.
  • Rule of Funny: It's very unlikely to find the toothpaste and foot cream tubes in someone's bathroom to look alike. But it makes for a great prank.
  • Scenery Porn
  • The Scream: Colignin lets out the first of a few when he realises he's brushing his teeth with foot cream.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: When Colignon causes a dramatic short circuit thanks to Amélie's prank.
  • Separated by the Wall: Amelie and Nino being separated by the apartment door towards the end of the movie.
  • Sex Montage: In one scene, Amélie amuses herself by wondering "how many couples are having orgasms right now?" She correctly guesses "Fifteen!" after a montage of every single one.
  • Shipper on Deck: Amélie for Georgette and Joseph. It goes poorly.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: The father builds an elaborate shrine for the deceased mother.
  • Shrinking Violet: Amelie and Nino. They are both shy, quiet, and friendly but have a hard time making friends.
  • Smash to Black: After Amelie's mother is hit by the suicidal tourist, the scene cuts to black.
  • Stage Whisper: Parodied. A prompter from a cellar window provides Amelie with a punchy comeback to Collignon insulting Lucien.
  • 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 shallowness. 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. The jerks she meets are only getting her revenge instead of a life lesson, e.g. Collignon is not shown to have changed his ways with Lucien.invoked
  • That Cloud Looks Like...: Exaggerated for the sake of magic realism.
  • Time Capsule: Dominique Bretodeau's treasure box which he left behind by accident in the 1950s.
  • Trickster Girlfriend: Amélie begins as this for Nino, since she plays cat-and-mouse with him without even revealing her face; it's mostly due to shyness, though.
  • Twice Shy: Amélie and Nino: both very shy and introverted people (and also more than a little quirky) which makes them perfect for each other, but alas, they Cannot Spit It Out (until the very end of the movie, that is.)
  • Twitchy Eye: Amélie's mother, cited as the sign of a nervous person.
  • Undignified Death: Amélie's mother is leaving Notre-Dame de Paris, having just prayed for the conception of a second child, when a Quebecois tourist committing suicide lands on her, killing them both.
  • Vehicle Vanish: Amelie finally gathers her courage to face Nino at the train station, but then a luggage car blocks her way. After it passed, Nino has disappeared from the phone booth.
  • Weather Report Opening: Inverted. The weather report is the final line of the film: "... Meanwhile, at the Sacré-Cœur, the nuns are practicing their backhand. The temperature is 24 degrees, humidity 70%, atmospheric pressure 990 millibars."
  • Zorro Mark: In an Imagine Spot, Amelie sees herself as Zoro leaving a Z mark on Collignon's apartment door.

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