Movie Nights: Amélie (Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain)

I know that this movie came out a long time ago, but as I was unable to see a movie this weekend due to a midterm from hell, I thought I would take the time to write about one of my all time favorite movies. It is also coincidentally the movie where part of my name comes from. This is a French foreign film starring the lovely and talented Audrey Tautou in the leading role of Amélie Poulain.

This is a story about a girl named Amélie, whose childhood was suppressed by her father’s mistaken concerns of a heart defect. Due to this fear of heart failure, Amélie gets hardly any real life contact with other children and people. This leads Amélie to resort to her own fantastical world and dreams of love and beauty. Fast forward to the present day, she is now a 23-year-old young woman who moves to the central part of Paris as a waitress at the The Two Windmills cafe in Montmartre. After finding a lost treasure belonging to the former occupant of her apartment, she decides to return it to him. After seeing his reaction and his newfound outlook on life, she decides to devote her life to helping the people around her. She helps her father who, after the death of her mother, is now obsessed with his garden gnome and a memorial in her memory. She also seeks to help: a failed writer, a hypochondriac, a man who stalks his ex-girlfriends, a suppressed young soul, the love of her life, and a man whose bones are as brittle as glass. But after consuming herself with these escapades, she finds out that she is disregarding her own life and damaging her own quest for love. Amélie then discovers she must become more aggressive, take ahold of her life and capture the beauty of love she has always dreamed of.

The Two Windmills in Monmarte (unfortunately my photo was too large to be uploaded)

It is one of my favorite movies for a few reasons, some of which may be silly or fantastical but in the end make the movie special to me. Amélie is a lonely child, she never went to a normal school or had normal friends, thus she was forced to create an alternate form of reality to enjoy her life, not realizing she is really coping with her loneliness. I am sure that we all at some point have those little things that just make our day better, those small gratifying things. Things like hot toast, the feeling of rice in your hands, or even the sound of your favorite bird. These are the things that Amélie retreats into and creates her own reality around. Though we may not do it to the extent that she does, we all do have the little things in life that make us happy. Lets be clear about her, though, she isn’t crazy, she is a person who developed an outlet to interact outside of her loneliness. The little things that she does for the people around her are sweet, they are kind, and they are done without any request for something back. It is nice to see a movie with the lead character being someone who is interested in helping others, and having the whole plot surrounding her exploration of what that means about her.


Image via IMDB

I can watch this movie over and over again, and it never gets old. It never gets tiresome, it never bores me. It is to the point now where I know it so well, I don’t bother to turn on the English subtitles, because they just get in the way of me hearing and seeing the story. It is an extremely visual film that draws you in with the colors, the sights, and the stories. We all have a little of Amélie in each of us, we each have those moments when we have decided or will decide what we are going to do to change our lives. Those moments that change who we are for the better.

I was in Paris this summer for the first time, and was fortunate that while on my way from Montmartre to the Moulin Rouge, I accidentally found the cafe where much of the story takes place. I hadn’t expected to find it; in fact, I thought it would be impossible. It was one of those magical moments where fate just seemed to step in and show me the way. Though I will be honest and say I was pissed at fate for making me find it due to my urgent need to use the bathroom really badly, because this story is now weird. I did not recognize the cafe at first, mainly because of my strong need to hurry and catch up with the group of people I was traveling with, and the location didn’t matter outside past my thought that it looked clean. However, it looked full and I decided no one would question this random girl going in to use the facilities. Once I walked in it was like a time warp into the movie. I forgot about my need to use the bathroom, my nerves at being yelled at in French, or the fact that the group I was with didn’t notice that I had stopped. All that mattered in that moment was that I was there, the place where Amélie seemed to live.


P.S. I totally remembered to use the bathroom after my shock wore off.


2 replies on “Movie Nights: Amélie (Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain)”

This is one of my very favorite movies too. :) It’s just SO gorgeous visually, and I could relate to her character so much, both as the imaginative and slightly isolated child and as the observant and passionate but bashful adult. And something that I hadn’t thought about until reading your review is how the movie also really comments on the way that women are socialized to put everyone else’s needs before their own.

I also really love Amelie and Nino’s first kiss – it’s so different from most first kisses in movies, and it’s so sweet with just a touch of awkwardness, and you can really feel the longing between them.

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