Delicacy – Review

The Mild Concern editors, Tim and Kat take to foreign cinema regularly. The closest I usually get to foreign films is when a non-American/Englishman directs a mainstream release. That said, any time a new Audrey Tautou film is released I’ll be there in the blink of an eye.

Sadly Tautou’s latest starring-film, Delicacy (or La Délicatesse if you will) has been hit with numerous reviews of mediocrity, it simply being shamed as a “been there, done that” flick. Sure, by French film standards it probably is nothing new but for those who don’t experience much European cinema it is an absolute delight – even if I did spend half of the film trying to stop myself from crying.

Based on the novel of the same name (written by the David half of the brother-directors of the film, Stéphane and David Foenkinos), Delicacy observes relationships idyllic and not so conventional when career-girl Nathalie’s (Tautou) world is destroyed by the untimely death of her husband. Three years later and still grieving she impulsively kisses workmate Markus (François Damiens) who is ugly even by European cinema’s standards. So begins the mostly funny, sometimes awkward, but always touching pseudo beauty-and-the-beast tale.

Packed with so much cheese that I’m sure Garry Marshall (Dir. Valentine’s Day, New Years Eve) had a heart attack of envy, Delicacy manages to actually steer away from all of the superficiality of the traditional (Hollywood-like) romantic comedy; its directors and acting ensemble huffing and puffing with genuine heart at making a film with as little fluff as possible. Of course, when Pez dispensers are love-gushing gifts and all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets are ironic romantic evenings the average cinemagoer probably wants to throw up, but Delicacy’s delicately (hur hur) handled sentimentality never feels artificial enough for us to stop believing in the story.

It’s a great effort from all involved, and the chemistry that the film’s plot demands of its cast is sufficient enough to get the point across that Audrey Tautou should never play a sad character because it is too depressing for me anyone to handle. There are plentiful hilarious moments and enough drama that expands on the formulaic rom-com template evident that makes it more than worth the price of a ticket. Just pick up a box of tissues on the way to the cinema.