Amélie (French: Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain; The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain) is a 2001 romantic comedy film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Written by Jeunet with Guillaume Laurant, the film is a whimsical depiction of contemporary Parisian life, set in Montmartre. It tells the story of a shy waitress, played by Audrey Tautou, who decides to change the lives of those around her for the better, while struggling with her own isolation. The film was a co-production between companies in France and Germany. Grossing over $33 million in limited theatrical release, it is still the highest-grossing French-language film released in the United States.
The film met with critical acclaim and was a major box-office success. Amélie won Best Film at the European Film Awards; it also won four César Awards (including Best Film and Best Director), two BAFTA Awards (including Best Original Screenplay), and was nominated for five Academy Awards. A Broadway adaptation is in development.
Amélie Poulain was raised by eccentric parents who — erroneously believing that she had a heart defect — prevented her from meeting other children. She was home schooled by her mother. She developed an active imagination and fantasy life to cope with her loneliness. After her mother is killed in a freak accident, her father's withdrawal from society worsens. Amélie eventually decides to leave home and becomes a waitress at Café des 2 Moulins in Montmartre, which is staffed and frequented by a collection of eccentrics. Spurning romantic relationships after a few disappointing efforts, she finds contentment in simple pleasures and letting her imagination roam free.
On 31 August 1997, Amélie is startled by the news of the death of Princess Diana, causing her to drop a glass perfume stopper which in turn dislodges a loose bathroom tile. Behind the tile she finds an old metal box of childhood memorabilia hidden by a boy who lived in her apartment decades earlier. She resolves to track down the boy and return the box to him, and promises herself that if she finds him and it makes him happy, she will devote her life to bringing happiness to others and helping others as much as she can.
She asks Mrs. Wells, the concierge, about the boy. Wells redirects her to the abusive greengrocer, Mr. Collignon, who redirects Amélie to his mother. Mrs. Collignon remembers the name "Dominique Bredoteau", but Amélie has no success finding the owner of the box. Amélie meets her reclusive neighbour, Raymond Dufayel, a man whose bones are as fragile as glass and an artist who repaints Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-Auguste Renoir every year. He remembers the boy also, but correctly recalls the name as "Bretodeau". Amélie quickly finds the man and surreptitiously passes him the box. Moved to tears by the discovery and the memories it holds, Bretodeau resolves to reconcile with his estranged daughter and the grandson he has never met. Amélie happily embarks on her new mission.
Amélie secretly executes complex schemes that affect the lives of those around her. She escorts a blind man to the Métro station, giving him a rich description of the street scenes he passes. She persuades her father to follow his dream of touring the world by stealing his garden gnome and having a flight attendant friend airmail pictures of it posing with landmarks from all over the world. She kindles a romance between a middle-aged co-worker and one of the customers in the bar. She convinces Mrs. Wells that the husband who abandoned her had sent her a final conciliatory love letter just before his accidental death years before. She avenges Lucien, Mr. Collignon's meek but good-natured assistant (who is the constant target of his abuse), by playing a number of practical jokes on Collignon, leaving him utterly exhausted and his ego deflated, while a delighted Lucien takes charge at the grocery stand.
While she is looking after others, Mr. Dufayel is observing her. He begins a conversation with her about his painting, a replica of Luncheon of the Boating Party. Although he has copied the same painting 20 times, he has never quite captured the look of the girl drinking a glass of water. They discuss the meaning of this character, and over several conversations Amélie begins projecting her loneliness on to the image. Dufayel recognizes this, and uses the girl in the painting to push Amélie to examine her attraction to a quirky young man who collects the discarded photographs of strangers from passport photo booths. When Amélie bumps into the young man a second time, she realizes she is falling in love with him. He accidentally drops a photo album in the street. Amélie retrieves it. She discovers his name is Nino Quincampoix, and she plays a cat-and-mouse game with him around Paris before returning his treasured album anonymously. After orchestrating a proper meeting at the 2 Moulins, she is too shy to approach him and tries to deny her identity. Her co-worker, concerned for Amélie's well-being, screens Nino for her; a café patron's comment about this misleads Amélie to believe she has lost Nino to the co-worker. It takes Dufayel's insight to give her the courage to pursue Nino, resulting in a romantic night together and the beginning of a relationship.
director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
story: Guillaume Laurant and Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Audrey Tautou as Amélie Poulain
Flora Guiet as Young Amélie
Mathieu Kassovitz as Nino Quincampoix
Amaury Babault as Young Nino
André Dussollier as Narrator
Rufus as Raphaël Poulain
Lorella Cravotta as Amandine Poulain
Serge Merlin as Raymond Dufayel
Clotilde Mollet as Gina
Claire Maurier as Suzanne
Isabelle Nanty as Georgette
Dominique Pinon as Joseph
Artus de Penguern as Hipolito
Yolande Moreau as Madeleine Wallace
Urbain Cancelier as Collignon
Jamel Debbouze as Lucien
Maurice Bénichou as Dominique Bretodeau
Kevin Fernandes as Young Dominique
Michel Robin as Mr. Collignon
Andrée Damant as Mrs. Collignon