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Shannon Stafford
March 15, 2002

I found myself struck by Amélíe, a movie about a quiet, socially challenged waitress, whom the movie is named, who finds a box hidden in the tiles in her bathroom. The box is filled with someone else’s childhood treasures. As Amélíe begins to dream about the person who could have hidden the box 40 years ago, she begins a transformation right before our eyes. She finds the man who lived in her apartment in the 1950’s, and arranges for him to find the box. This re-discovery completely changes his life, making him seek out his estranged daughter and become involved in his grandson’s life. 

Due to her success in reuniting the box with its owner and to making a difference in his life, Amélíe decides to become a doer of good. Eventually, she meddles in the lives of everyone around her, but not always to their benefit. This involvement allows her to have a front-row seat to life, without having to actually participate. At least until she meets a man…

Everything about this movie is amazing. We learn of Amélíe’s life through a voice-over narrative, which reveals seemingly trivial details about each character as they are presented. For example, her father likes to empty out his toolbox, clean it, and put all the tools back. Amélíe watches a cat for a friend who is a flight attendant. We learn the cat likes to listen at story time.

Each character is introduced with humor and love -- the way that the title character sees them. Amélíe goes to movies every Friday, just so she can watch the faces of the people in the theater behind her who are intently watching the movie.

This absolutely remarkable film comes to us from director Jean-Pierre Jeunet who has won many notable French and European awards for writing, directing and producing. He has an all-star French cast, who charms their way into everyone’s hearts.

The tagline for Amélíe, “She’ll Change Your Life,” is almost prophetic for this movie. At one time or another, most of us have stood on the outside of life, looking in. That is what this movie is about: finding the courage to live life, not just watch it. Even the humor in the movie finds its basis in this premise – Amélíe steals her father’s garden gnome, and suddenly Polaroids of the gnome begin arriving from around the world. Amélíe convinces her father, Raphaël Poulaín, a retired physician, that the gnome has gone traveling, just as he has always longed to do.

If you haven’t yet ventured out to see Amélíe, pick up the entertainment section of the nearest newspaper or call your local theaters to find out where and when it is playing. Don’t let this incredible movie pass you by. And don’t worry, they put subtitles in for those of us that don’t speak French. - Copyright 2002 - Email us at
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