This film is another very hard film to review. Delicatessen is a real mixed bag of everything drama, comedy, and horror. I first saw this film about 10 years ago. Right after I had seen the director’s second feature City of Lost Children, and before the director’s third feature Amalie. While the film is my least favorite of Jeunet’s that is not saying much. All of his films create an excellent sense of wonder and are truly classic cinema. For my people who are unaware of really great international cinema this film is a fantastic place to start. These are all really great date night movies and also great for movie geeks. The writing, directing and acting really bring a lot for any viewer.
This film really is a cross between Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (one of my actual favorite films ever made) and Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd. The story centers on an apartment building with a delicatessen on the ground level. The proprietor of the eating place also owns the apartment building and he is in need of a new maintenance man since the last one “peculiarly” disappeared (can’t go wrong with a little cannibalism). A man who was previously a clown applies for the job. The butcher’s intent is to have him work for a little while and then serve
him to eccentric occupants who recompense the butcher in grain. The clown and butcher’s daughter fall in love and she tries to foil her father’s plans by contacting the “troglodytes”, a grain eating sub-group of society who live entirely underground.
This film is one of the most visual films I have ever seen since the silent era. It heavily relies on action to tell the story rather than dialogue. In film this is a lost art and I enjoyed Delicatessen because of this. The viewer can really tell what each character is feeling or motivated to do by just watching their face or how they move their hand. This is shown in a few completely classic scenes. I really can not go into the “sex” scene because it really just is a fantastic sequence that needs watching rather than explanation.
As always in Jeunet’s film this has a truly amazing performance by Dominique Pinon. Pinon brings a flawless quality of quirkiness to the character of Louison, playing on the character’s past as a circus clown to create some odd, yet magical, moments, such as filling soap bubbles with cigarette smoke. The rest of the castt are also great but Pinon really brings it here. He has the capacity to do anything, by bringing laughs and terror and love to the role.
The transfer is as great as it can be. The film is very intentionally dark and smoky due to its setting (post-apocalyptic Paris). The visiuals really fit the setting well and the blu-ray really brings out the great yellow and orange tones in the film. I would have really appreciated a 5 channel audio setup but the film has a good two channel setup.
Making Of: Fine Cooked Pork Meats: Nice behind the scenes feature but nothing new when it comes to this type of feature.
Main Course Pieces: a really in-depth look, a bit tedious but worth checking out.
Jeunet’s Archives: auditions for the film. Weak.
Audio Commentary: was really difficult due to the language barrier.
Over all this film is fantastic with a little bit of fault in the pacing of the film. This is completely made up for in the acting. This is one of my go to films if I’m showing a friend about French films.
Delicatessen (StudioCanal Collection) [Blu-ray] is available for purchase at Amazon.com and other retailers.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
We received this title for our DVD review. All opinions are our own.