In most Traveling Angel stories, the hero enters a community in trouble. The problems of a number of minor characters are detailed and then the traveling angel – who is perfect – proceeds to fix them.
Amelie, by contrast, begins with the traveling angel. Far from being perfect she has a strong psychological problem. Since childhood, she has withdrawn from life. She is afraid to take emotional risks. She is unable to love.
The early part of the film shows her helping the minor characters in the community. Because these characters are only loosely connected, this part of the film seems episodic and unfocused. The narrative drive flags.
About halfway through the writers attach a love story to the traveling angel story. Immediately the narrative line picks up steam. Notice also that this line is directly connected to the traveling angel’s need. She must take a risk to love.
Unfortunately, because of so many other minor characters and the lateness of the love story line, the audience doesn’t get an opportunity to get to know Amelie’s future lover. So the payoff at the end when they get together is only mildly satisfying.
This film shows yet again how powerful and popular the Traveling Angel comedy is. But the real pleasures of Amelie are some nice scenes and playful camera work.