Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001


Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) is playing Mighty Mouse.


As a kid, Amélie Poulain was very protected by her dad (Rufus) to the point she thought she was responsible for all the misery in the world. As an adult, she wants to help the people around her. She first meets with Mr Bretodeau (Maurice Bénichou) and gives him the will to live. That’s not enough though. Amélie is still single and she feels lonely.

Until she has a crush for Nino Quincampoix (Mathieu Kassovitz) a young man who collects failed pictures from Paris’ photo booth. Her heart beats big time. She lets him know she exists but and gives him hints so he can find her. But she’s too shy.

Her neighbor Raymond Dufayel (Serge Merlin), a.k.a. Glass Man motivates her:

So, my little Amélie, you don’t have bones of glass. You can take life’s knocks. If you let this chance pass, eventually, your heart will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton. So, go get him, for Pete’s sake!

She goes out and finds Nino at her door. The two can enjoy their love. The streets of Paris are definitely more romantic when two people sit together on a moped.


Amélie is about the bigger picture.

Amélie Poulain is a baby chicken. Fragile. She got brooded by two parents whose favorite past time was to undo things to do them again. Her parents simply didn’t live, not even a little. There was always an excuse not to. Amélie follows the same path. She’s extremely sensitive to the little things in life. She appreciates the tiny details. And it’s great. In a sense, she’s right. Life is a collection of small things put together. The chances of occurence are very unlikely.

On September 3rd 1973, at 6:28pm and 32 seconds, a bluebottle fly capable of 14,670 wing beats a minute landed on Rue St Vincent, Montmartre. At the same moment, on a restaurant terrace nearby, the wind magically made two glasses dance unseen on a tablecloth. Meanwhile, in a 5th-floor flat, 28 Avenue Trudaine, Paris 9, returning from his best friend’s funeral, Eugène Colère erased his name from his address book. At the same moment, a sperm with one X chromosome, belonging to Raphaël Poulain, made a dash for an egg in his wife Amandine. Nine months later, Amélie Poulain was born. 

But because she focuses so much on what’s small, she ends up thinking small. She can’t grow big. She’s so shy and discrete that she will disappear from this earth and no one will ever notice just like Nino doesn’t notice her in this café. Amélie is missing the point. She doesn’t get what’s important.

The starting point for her is to accept who she is. She can’t save the planet or make it great again like French President Emmanuel Macron recently converted to the protection of the environment. Amélie needs to be aware of what she can and can’t do. This is not a lack of ambition from her part. That’s how she could help people better.

What’s important in life obviously is not to live selfishly. When she serves people she feels alive.

Amelie has a strange feeling of absolute harmony. It’s a perfect moment. A soft light, a scent in the air, the quiet murmur of the city. A surge of love, an urge to help mankind overcomes her.

But she should not confuse living for the others and sharing her life with the others – which is more interesting. She needs to allow herself. She spent too much time forgetting herself, as Mr Dufayel told her.

You mean she would rather imagine herself relating to an absent person than build relationships with those around her?

She needs to go out of her own bubble.

These are hard times for dreamers.

Amélie needs to meet with the other. She can’t live virtually. Bringing romance to the everyday is one thing. We can be amazed by the butterfly effect and what it can create (or not) on the other side of the world. Let’s be careful not to be trapped in our own fantasy though. Nino Quincampoix started to see the same picture over and over again near the photo booth. The same man. Quincampoix started to imagine a man who refused to grow old. This man was actually a technician. Nino could have spent his entire life searching for a man who was fixing photo booth. It’s time for the dreamers to stop dreaming and live the life. Hit the wall perhaps. But behind the door there’s love, with a moped. Going through Paris on a moped is less dramatic than a sports car, that’s for sure. But it’s better than not living.

Why do we prefer to hide in the details? Is it dangerous to ride a moped in Paris? What’s the point in living?


This publication reflects the views only of the author.

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