Young Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) works in a Paris café, lives alone and helps people, surreptitiously. Whether it's secretly returning the childhood treasures of a middle aged man, to matchmaking for the lovelorn, Amélie gives fate a helping hand. When Nino (Matthieu Kassovitz) enters her world, her life takes a new and exciting turn.

Amelie will entrance everyone.

Amelie Poulain lives in Montmartre. She's an only child whose mother died young and whose father was convinced she was suffering from a heart ailment; so she never went to school and as a result lived a lonely life filled with fantasies. Now she works as a waitress in an old-style cafe and her life is changed forever on the day Princess Di is killed – when she discovers, hidden behind her bathroom wall, a box left there by a boy who once lived in the house. Amelie decides to try to track down the boy, now a man, and return his childhood toys. In her sweetly optimistic way she determines to help the people around her, to change their lives, while she herself maintains a solitary life...

Amelie or, to translate the original French title, The Fabulous Destiny Of Amelie Poulain, is both very original and rather old-fashioned. It's the most benign film to date from Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the gifted visual stylist who created some very dark films like Delicatessen, City Of Lost Children and his Hollywood thriller, Alien Resurrection. With a little help from digital enhancing, Jeunet recreates a Paris as it might once have been, without really going back into the past. He also creates a wonderful array of characters who need Amelie's encouragement, played by a gallery of fine actors, including Jeunet regular Dominique Pinon, as a lovesick patron of the cafe, Rufus, as Amelie's father and Matthieu Kassovitz, as a young man obsessed with collecting photos left behind at automatic booths.

Amelie was rejected by the Cannes film festival this year, but it was a mega-success in France, though some writers have attacked it for its Mary Poppins-ish depiction of a Paris where no people of colour are to be seen and old-fashioned attitudes reign. But with the talented Audrey Tautou in the leading role, Amelie is sheer delight, and will entrance everyone who sees it.



Watch 'Amelie'

Sunday 1 August, 12:15am on SBS / Streaming after broadcast at SBS On Demand

France, 2001
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
Language: French
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Dominique Pinon, Yolande Moreau

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