Amélie's ordinary world is actually extraordinary to many American movie-goers. She lives in a picturesque fantasy version of Paris—the romantic "Paree" that many Americans want when they visit Paris. Croissants, the Eiffel Towel, charming music, berets. That's Amélie's everyday life, like she lives inside a romantic storybook.
Call To Adventure
Amélie's world is shattered—well, one tile in her bathroom is broken—when Princess Diana dies, and the news shocks Amélie so much that she drops the top of her perfume bottle. Behind the broken tile, she finds a mysterious cigar box filled with memories, and she decides to return it to its owner.
Refusal Of The Call
Amélie is briefly afraid of how Bretodeau will react when he finds the box of childhood memories, but she decides to go through with it anyway. What harm could it cause? Amélie hopes she can change the world, one small step at a time.
Meeting The Mentor
To find Bretodeau, Amélie needs help, and she gets it from Mr. Dufayel, a man who stays in his own apartment all the time. Amélie also likes to stay in her own apartment, but she doesn't have an excuse. Dufayel is too fragile to venture outside, so he parcels out advice and wisdom to Amélie, hoping to live vicariously through her.
Crossing The Threshold
The threshold in this case is the door of a small phone booth. And Amélie crosses it, but she quickly retreats in order to watch how things unfold from outside. Amélie leaves Bretodeau's box where he can find it, but she doesn't tell him that she is the one who did it. It is still a significant moment for her, and her first step toward coming out of her shell.
Tests, Allies, Enemies
After bringing Bretodeau's childhood memories back to him, Amélie sees that she is able to change others' lives. She helps her father get over the death of her mother. She helps her weirdest restaurant patron find a relationship. And she punishes a bullying produce stand owner. But the more she helps others, the more she begins to wonder if she can find love of her own.
Approach To The Inmost Cave
Amélie sees herself as a Mother Theresa or a Princess Di type, a person who does charitable acts for others without any regard for herself. But she doesn't do this selflessly, she does this because she is scared of personal interaction with other people. It's a defense mechanism to protect herself. Amélie's "inmost cave" is a photo booth. She realizes that the young man who loses his photo album is very similar to herself. By getting herself involved in returning it, she might change her own life, as well as his.
Returning the photo album turns into a huge ordeal for Amélie. She must learn who the owner is and where he works. Afraid to confront Nino directly, she lays out an elaborate scavenger hunt. She even helps him discover the identity of the mysterious bald man in many of his photos. But Dufayel basically calls Amélie a coward for using such roundabout tactics, forcing her to reexamine herself, and to decide what she wants out of life, not just how she can help others.
Reward (Seizing The Sword)
Nino asks Amélie on a date. That would be a reward for anyone else, but Amélie is still ruled by her anxiety, and she runs away from his offer.
The Road Back
Amélie's road back is a regretful one. She finds herself in her little apartment, making pasta, all by herself, just like she was at the beginning of the movie. But she's in Paris! Everyone loves Paris. And pasta! But being alone is the sticking point. Amélie will have to meet Nico face-to-face if she wants anything to change.
Amélie opens the door and Nino is there. Instead of shutting it in his face and hiding, which is what she would have done at the beginning of the movie, she lets him inside her apartment, and inside her life. She's a new person. Now she is the happy one, instead of the one who brings happiness to others.
Return With The Elixir
Amélie and Nino celebrate their relationship by riding his motorbike through the charming streets of Paris. It's the fairytale we were swept up in at the beginning, the Paris we see in postcards. But this time, our princess has found her handsome prince.