Come Up Here
For A Breather
, 15 Aug 2012
'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 rather 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 my hall door has died down and the football's over - I'm available (for a very reasonable fee).
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