Study Guide

Amélie Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz)

Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz)

Two Sides of the Same Franc

Nino Quincampoix and Amélie are kindred spirits living in the same city, yet somehow they've never met each other before. We're told they grew up "five miles apart [and] both dreamed of having a brother and sister to be with all the time." How different their lives would have been, maybe, if they'd known each other as children.

Nino and Amélie have quirks in common. Just as Amélie collects things literally—like skipping stones—and figuratively—like good deeds, Nino also tries to collect things both tangible and ephemeral. His co-worker tells Amélie, "He took pictures of footprints in wet cement. He's a funny guy. When we met, he was a Santa Claus. Other things, like whenever he heard a funny laugh, he'd tape it."

All of this collecting, though, doesn't really add up to real life. All Amélie and Nino find, really, are pieces of the lives of other people. Sure, they're magical, but they're not enough. Both Nino and Amélie need to find a way to actually end their isolation and connect with other people.

Now, Nino didn't have the same isolated existence Amélie did growing up. She was homeschooled; he was bullied. As a result, Nino still tends to shy away from others, but in a different way. At his job as an actor in a carnival ride, Nino seems to hides behind his mask to get up the nerve to touch Amélie's hair and go "ooooh" into her ear. (We do sort of wonder how many other women he's pawing at in this dark tunnel. We smell a lawsuit.) Anyway, we doubt he'd have the same courage without the mask.

But maybe he would. Nino follows Amélie's clues without fear at the end, and when they lead him to his lost photo album, he wants more clues, and he gets on a trail that will lead him to the woman playing this game. Nino marches up to Amélie's apartment at the end, something she would never do. He takes the first step out of the impasse, and then it's up to her to open the door.