Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001) is a movie that comes up on everybody’s Top 10 lists, and not just for romance. It’s an amazing movie, so it’s not surprising, but it did take me a while to think of, which is surprising.
For those who need a refresher… Amélie follows the life of a young, quirky, lonely, imaginative woman in Paris. She was homeschooled because her father, a doctor, mistakenly thought she had a heart defect, and when she was six, her mother died, so she had no real childhood friends. Now she has a few friends, and a mission in life to do good (in very roundabout ways). The narrator assured us after a few disappointing experiences with boyfriends, she has no interest in more, but then the audience meets Nino, who had too many playmates while she had too few. She has one job (a waitress), and he has two or three: at a porn shop, and as a skeleton in a haunted house ride.
But being Amélie, she can’t simply return his scrapbook to him when he forgets it at the Metro station– she makes it into a quest/scavenger hunt. This cements their interest in each other, and keep up the scavenger hunt in order to meet. All the while, they imagine what life will be like when they get together. Unfortunately, when Nino does make it to the cafe where she works, she gets cold feet and pretends not to know who he is. He then strikes up a conversation with her colleague Gina, and Amélie goes home to cry. At home, she finds a tape her downstairs neighbor (the Glass Man) left for her telling her not to miss this chance with Nino.
She starts to go after Nino, only to find him at the front door. What follows is one of the sweetest scenes in cinematic history. It’s almost completely silent, too. Nino and Amélie don’t speak– the only words come from the Glass Man telling Lucien (who had delivered the video tape) not to watch the lovers’ silhouettes.
Amelie and Nino don’t really know each other, and yet they do. They are clearly cut from the same cloth, and they will probably do well together. But their future really doesn’t matter. This is a whimsical movie, a 21st century fairy tale, and this scene is the perfect closing note to an utterly romantic picture.