Monday, October 14, 2013

Delicacy (2011)

DelicacyThe infectious Audrey Tautou takes center stage in this charming French confection about love in its various configurations. Ever since "Amelie," I've been enchanted with Tautou. She is so likable and natural with an intriguing ease on screen. It's almost impossible not to relate to her in some manner, and I think this appeal can sometimes overshadow her talent. And she is a true talent, she just makes it look simple. She goes through a strong character arc in "Delicacy" and is absolutely terrific. From contentment, to loss and withdrawal, to romantic rebirth--Tautou experiences much in this film filled with both melancholy and hope. Billed as a whimsical romantic comedy, I wouldn't discount this movie as merely frothy entertainment (although it surely is). There is a truth and poignancy at the heart of "Delicacy" that really resonates. This isn't pure fantasy. There are real life situations, genuine heart, and a surprising depth beneath the sweet exterior. And I, for one, appreciated that the movie felt true to life without sacrificing its charm.

As the movie opens, Tautou seems to be a woman who has it all. But this idyllic existence is short lived as a tragic accident scrambles her contented life. Picking up three years later, Tautou has thrown herself into her career. Although well liked, she appears to have dismissed all notions of finding romance. In fact, she isn't looking for it in any way, shape, or form. Fending off unwanted advances and becoming the fodder for office speculation, one day she breaks routine with a defiant and almost unconscious act. She impetuously kisses a subordinate (Francois Damiens) and proceeds as if nothing has happened. But Damiens is besotted and this unremarkable (and relatively meaningless) moment might just have long range repercussions. The two are an unlikely match, but they begin a casual friendship that is very winning. Can you find love when you're not looking for it? Or is there any other way? The biggest obstacle, in this case, is the resistant Tautou. But maybe everything happens for a reason.

Tautou, as I've said, is really great here but she is matched by Damiens (traditionally known for more broad comedy). While I was amused throughout, I was also completely invested in both of the characters. I'm not particularly sentimental, but this simple story felt remarkably believable. An easy recommendation for fans of French romance, I think this is a film experience with pretty universal appeal. Its goals are relatively modest, but it certainly achieves what it sets out to do. About 4 1/2 stars. The North American release has Bonus features that include a making-of featurette as well as an exclusive interview with the luminous Tautou. KGHarris, 9/12.

`La délicatesse' is a lovely French dish written by David Foenkinos and directed by both David and Stéphane Foenkinos. Much of the success of this slightly to the edge story of the vagaries of love and life as they intertwine is due to the presence of the irresistible charm and charisma of lead actress Audrey Tautou. She is able to take this story that at times seems impossibly off track and keep it grounded in her sense of lightness and focus, making us believe that what actually happens to this character is truly quite possible.

Nathalie Kerr (Audrey Tautou) is a successful businesswoman who happens to meet the rather unkempt but impish François (Pio Marmaï, an irresistibly charming actor) quite by accident (and an order of apricot juice) in a café. Nathalie is literally swept off her feet and rather quickly this spontaneous meeting of hearts results in blissful marriage. The perfect scenario ends tragically when François is accidentally kill. Nathalie's heart seems irreparable and she trudges through life bathed in grief and longing. Even her handsome boss Charles (Bruno Todeschini) can't woo her: Nathalie is frank in her objection that Charles is a married man. Then the door to her office opens and a subordinate nerdy appearing geek named Markus Lundi (François Damiens) walks in and Nathalie impetuously greets him with a passionate kiss an act she represses thinking that such a deed was impossible. And this apparent one-sided accidental occurrence lightens Markus' life and he is committed to falling in love with the resistant Nathalie. The `courtship' leads to Nathalie's recognition that love and happiness can happen in the most unexpected places and ways.

Summarizing the story makes it sound trite and bordering on silly, but it is the delicately French manner in which it is told that makes the film so refreshingly endearing. The entire cast is first class (director Stéphane Foenkinos is best known as one of France's best casting directors!) but it is the glimmering lightness of Tautou and Marmaï and Damiens that make it sail. A perfect Valentine. Grady Harp, February 13

Buy Delicacy (2011) Now

"I could go on holiday in your hair," moons a love struck Swede named Markus (Francois Damiens) to his co-worker, a beautiful French widow named Nathalie. If that sounds like an inappropriate comment to make at the office (to your boss, no less), you're right. Then again, it's not every day that your boss (bearing a remarkable likeness to Audrey Tautou) calls you into her office, springs from her chair without warning, plants a lingering, passionate smooch, then goes back to her desk as if nothing just happened. It's an anomaly that a slovenly nebbish like Markus is going to require a few days to process.

Whether or not you believe that a beautiful young widow who bears a remarkable likeness to Audrey Tautou would even consider throwing herself at a slovenly nebbish who bears a remarkable likeness to a French Chris Elliot is probably a good litmus test for whether or not you will be willing to sit through a romantic dramedy called "Delicacy", directed by siblings David and Stephane Foenkinos (adapted from David's novel). In an opening montage that vibes the films of Eric Rohmer, we get a recap of Nathalie's relationship with her late husband, the suavely continental Francois (Pio Marmai), from their initial Meet Cute at a quaint café, to his untimely demise while out for a jog one fateful morning. The heartbroken Nathalie deals with her pain by becoming a workaholic.

And so it is that Nathalie registers just as much shock at her impulsive amorous advance on her own underling, as does Markus himself (who leaves her office dazed and confused). When he later screws up the courage to ask her if she truly wants to go down this road, Nathalie tries to backpedal. She doesn't know what possessed her. Her mind was elsewhere, etc. etc. "You sound like an American. That's a bad sign," Markus deadpans, in the film's funniest line. This gets a chuckle out of Nathalie, breaking the ice.

Will this odd couple find true love? You'll have to watch to find out. You will have to be willing to suspend your disbelief, of course. Your willingness to go along with this fluffy but diverting affair also hinges on which camp you happen to be in regarding Ms. Tautou's saucer-eyed, Gallic pixie allure (which some are apparently immune to). There is some unevenness in tone, particularly stemming from an over-reliance on the gimmick of "listening in" to each character's Deep Thoughts (which aim for poetic heights but tend to crash-land just this side of a Hallmark greeting card), but it's not enough to sink the proceedings. The film is saved by Tautou and Damiens' onscreen chemistry; they both bring an endearing charm to their roles. Damiens imbues his shambling ugly duckling with a gentle humanity that helps us grok what Nathalie finds so appealing. Think of this film as a soufflé, which, depending on what you bring to the table, can be an entree or a dessert. If you're the type who could bypass the entree and go straight to dessert, I think you will enjoy. Those without a sweet tooth will probably want to skip it.

Read Best Reviews of Delicacy (2011) Here


"Delicacy" isn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination but nowadays is that rarest of digital beasts a 'kind' film a gently unfolding love story about two polar opposites who need to give each other a chance...

But therein lies some of this French movie's problems with critics and audiences alike (never mind the English subtitles). We're essentially being asked to believe what some would say is absurd after the loss of her ludicrously handsome and beloved husband Francois (Pio Marmai) the swanlike beauty Nathalie Kerr (Audrey Tautou) then falls in love with the office klutz the balding cardigan-wearing Swedish clerk Markus Lundl (Francois Damiens). And of course in the real world no such thing would happen. But I'd argue that David and Stephane Foenkinos' movie is better than that...

"La Delicatesse" (the original French title) isn't a rom-com or even a comedy as the trailer clumsily tries to portray it's rather more serious than that. It's a journey from heartbreak back to hope and it's done with class and a deliberately languid pace. It comes with the usual office dynamics the already-married boss Charles (Bruno Todeschini) consumed with the widowed prize he can't have the gossiping secretary Chloe (a shockingly gorgeous Melanie Bernier) and outside of work friends and their nosey partners who don't rate the social status of Nathalie's new male acquisition (and he's not even that pretty either).

Speaking of physical beauty and its grip on our world in 2011 the script has a go at these social hypocrisies and often succeeds. But I was more impressed with other sublime and touching moments... When Nathalie returns after the funeral to her apartment and the blurry emptiness just hits her when she picks up a friend's child in a playground and smiles for the first time in a long while when she later gets an inexpensive but thoughtful gift from Markus that changes her perspective of him so completely. And their year-after-year relationship is allowed to grow slowly talks on the office roof (dialogue above) when Markus sees Nathalie's elegant neckline as they exit a restaurant when Nathalie's elderly aunt greets them in the rain at her country cottage and remarks that he is "a good man"...

The BLU RAY picture is good beautiful in places but hardly exceptional it has to be said. Defaulted to 1.85:1 aspect ratio it does at least fill the entire screen and the English subtitles are never unreadable. There are 15 deleted scenes (some quite substantial) and the 21 blooper reels where the cast has a giggle are a welcome blast (even having a light-hearted poke at "The Artist" on the last one).

The camera adores every second of Audrey Tautou and sometimes her extraordinary beauty works against her yet she imbibes her Nathalie with a hurt and longing that is wholly believable. When she sobs or delights you feel both with an equal wallop. Francois Damiens does even better never overplaying the ordinariness of his Markus just letting it flow out slowly but also allowing him those dizzy moments of seize-the-day or love will elude you. Very touching stuff...

Perhaps it's just me but I can't help but feel that we've been so emotionally bludgeoned over the years by bad movies, violence and cruelty-as-cool that something as genuinely lovely as "Delicacy" finds itself being poo-pooed and dismissed in certain quarters. I'd say take a chance on this one it will reward you...

...And if Audrey Tautou or Melanie Bernier need a dish on their arms for a premier or a red carpet or two once the female queue outside the hall door has died down and the football's over I'm available (for a very reasonable fee).

BLU RAY Specifications:

Video: 1.85:1 Full Screen Aspect Ratio

Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 Stereo LPCM

Subtitles: A French Film with English Subtitles Onscreen


1. Deleted Scenes (15)

2. Bloopers (21)

3. Trailer

Want Delicacy (2011) Discount?

I love Audrey Tautou. This film was great. I enjoy French films and the story line was non the typical American same ol' same ol'. Nice movie.

Save 47% Off

No comments:

Post a Comment