The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain

“Without you, today’s emotions would be the dead skin of yesterday’s.”


“Let’s watch a movie” is a thought that crosses my mind almost every evening. For a person that has watched hundreds of movies, it’s a bit embarrassing to admit that I hadn’t watched Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie yet. It’s even more embarrassing to confess that I didn’t even know what Amélie was about. All I had heard about that movie was that it was a good one.

Since I hadn’t been exposed to the movie, I tried to follow the first three scenes carefully to get the main idea of the movie. What on earth can between a butterfly, 2 glasses and Amélie’s birth have in common? It’s like telling you that at the time a driver crossed a red light and a couple kissed under a tree in Austria, I started writing this article on my laptop. Does this movie have to do with random events, luck and destiny? Or was it just a director’s trick to get our attention? In any case, it worked.

The story

Amélie Poulain, an introvert that grew up with an anti-social father and a neurotic mother who died during Amélie’s early childhood, lives isolated from other people. She drowns in her everyday routine while working as a waitress in a small Montmarte café, The Two Windmills, until a fortuitous event changes her life. At that time, she devotes her life to helping other by bringing them happiness; only later, she will know that first of all, she has to help herself. Soon, she will understand that “her bones aren’t made of glass”; and as “she can take life’s knocks”, she will dare to live her life and leave her heart open for love.

Amélie’s character

Amelie At the MoviesBrilliant, isolated, fabulous, introverted. Kind and indiscreet. Indeed, Amélie is a strange girl. You can tell by the way she acts and by the way she asks everybody she encounters all kinds of questions. She takes revenge and she helps other without it being noticeable. She has her own way of thinking. She has this unique way to choose who she’ll like and whom she won’t. She takes joy by looking after others. The strangest things get her attention; things invisible by others. She keeps looking for mysteries, and if there aren’t any, she creates one or two. She has the feeling that everybody understands her because “we all think the same way”, but this doesn’t stop her from being aware of her uniqueness.

The best scene of the movie

Surprisingly, my favorite scene was the one where Amélie drops the goldfish in the river in the light rain. This autumnal atmosphere, which symbolizes the end of an era but at the same time the beginning of a bright, new day – it made me want to go out for a walk. Losing a friend is always hard, but it’s like closure: sometimes, it’s nothing more than what it takes to leave a miserable life behind before you turn a new page.

Director’s style

I loved the way Jean-Pierre Jeunet introduced the characters to us: simple, fast and effective. I used to think a little dark secret, a childhood experience or a stupid habit that seems too strange to be confessed can reveal one’s true character. Then, you can say that you really know him. In that movie, Laurant and J.P. Jeunet have really nailed it. They describe the character by showing us what they love and what they hate the most. I bet that somewhere between unusual habits and stupid obsessions, you will find a little bit something about yourself.

What Améliemade me wonder about…

Amélie is one of those movies that will leave you with a bittersweet taste in your mouth as soon as you see the “Le Fin” sign, left with a million of questions and thoughts about life popping into your head. Here are some of the questions I managed to jot down:

Do we really know the people next door? What are our neighbors like, and is it possible to misjudge them just by their appearance?

How odd must someone be, in order to be considered odd? And will one person decide that? After all, shouldn’t we try to get to know people that seem odd?

Was Freud right about childhood experiences that affect our grown-up life? Do our obsessions, our oddities have their roots in our early years?

Are our lives stigmatized by fortuitous events, or is it all written in the stars? Is it luck, or is it fate?

Amélie’s character has more thoughts to “share” with us even though it wasn’t her intention. She has much to tell – or show – us about the meaning of revenge, about dreams that never come true and the excuses we make up to make ourselves feel better while leaving them behind.

Everyone has his own past which can’t be changed. All we can do is to go forward (and always have a backup plan).

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