Amélie is a romantic comedy filmed in over 80 Parisian locations by acclaimed director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The film captures the charm and mystery of Paris, and is also a true aristotelian comedy.
Amélie Poulain, the comic hero, is the only child of a doctor and a schoolteacher. When Amélie was a child, the only physical contact she had with her severe, reserved father was a monthly medical checkup. When Amélie was six, he decided that she had a serious heart defect, when in actuality, her heart would beat faster because she was so nervous of the rare contact with her father. He decided that because of her hard condition, she had to be home-schooled by her anxious, overreacting mother. Because she was so isolated from other children, Amélie developed a vivid imagination and became relatively comfortable with her solitude and with entertaining herself. The lives of her and her father take a turn for the worse, however, when her mother was fatally crushed by a suicidal tourist who jumped off of the roof of Notre Dame. Her father became severely depressed, and Amélie received even less affection and attention.
One day, Amélie discovers a small box behind a wall in her bathroom that contains pictures and toys from the owner’s childhood. Amélie finds the box’s owner to return it and decides that if he is touched, she will devote her life to acts of kindness. When Amélie returns the box tears up about his childhood memories, and Amélie discovers that her act had inspired him to visit his estranged daughter and meet his grandson for the first time.
Amélie encourages her father to travel for the first time by stealing his treasured garden gnome and giving it to her stewardess friend, who takes pictures of it all over the world. Amélie anonymously sends the pictures to her father, inspiring him to travel. Amélie helps a co-worker at the cafe, whose ex-boyfriend possessively spies on her all day, by setting the ex-boyfriend up with another co-worker. Amélie steals her concierge’s letters from her deceased husband and creates a new letter in which he apologizes to his wife for his unfaithfulness. Amélie also avenges a friend by pranking his boss who constantly insults him.
One day at the train station, Amélie sees Nino Quincampoix, a young man who finds delight in reconstructing torn-up pictures found underneath photo booths. Nino drops one of his photo albums in the station, and Amélie decides to return the album, but wants to meet him so she sets up clues for him to bring them together. Her efforts to woe him consume most of the film and she does not end up with him until the very end because they are both rather shy and idealistic. The film ends with the narrator prompting the audience to observe the remarkable things in life that occur every moment.
Amélie is not only about romantic love, Amélie believes in finding love in simple, everyday pleasures and helps other characters do that. Through her humorous interactions with others, Amélie demonstrates that love and amusement can be found in everything, including the seemingly insignificant aspects of life. Amélie is the truest example of an aristotelian comedy because with Amélie’s help, every character advances from a low place to a high place. The interest she takes in the lives of others is what allows each and every character to thrive. The film Amélie advocates for both romantic love and a love of and an appreciation for everyday things, contributing to the idea that even in a romantic comedy, comic success does not have to be romantic love.