Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Delicatessen: More delight than disgust

I'll be the first to admit I didn't expect to like Delicatessen. My mum's friend had bought a box set of films by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, director of Amelie, for us all to watch on holiday and when she put this on after the amount of chocolate eggs we had all consumed, to be honest, reading the subtitles felt too much like hard work. But Amelie is my favourite film so once I started watching and had been caught up on the (relatively simple) plot it's not surprising that I loved the quirky and detailed style of this 1991 film. One of the reasons I love Amelie is that neither of the protagonists conform to to the conventionally attractive Hollywood stereotypes of hot guy and hot girl and this was also the case here with the two main characters played by Marie-Laure Dougnac (Julie) and Dominique Pinon (Louison). Pinon played Joseph in Amelie which got me squeaking about how amazing it is and annoying everyone. 
Julie and Louison.

The story of Delicatessen; without spoilers or anything that can't be got from the DVD blurb; is set in a post-apocalyptic future, presumably in France, where a murderous butcher seeks to protect his daughter from the harsh reality of their lives. But it's the cast of brilliantly weird and funny characters that makes this film so good as they reveal all thats good and bad and sad about life and each other. The multiple suicide attempts of one woman which seemed endlessly doomed to fail was an example of a theme in the directors work. This power of luck or chance is also evident in Amelie, as in real life it's unlikely that any of her whimsical and complicated set-ups would work. 
  Amelie, also by Jean-Pierre Jeanet.

You will find to your surprise that this is a really enjoyable and despite the bleak plot, a truly laugh-out-loud funny film. It's definitely worth a viewing even if only to give you some more food for thought on the provenance of your Sunday dinner. The "Troglodistes" are also hilarious as the rebel vegetarians which left my friend and me feeling smug as the only ones who hadn't eaten a huge Easter Sunday roast. I thought Delicatessen made an interesting comment as to how people would simply adapt social taboos and hierarchies in the event of a cataclysmic natural disaster. 

When we watched it we did let my 12 year old sister and her best friend see it and as neither of them have been disturbed (although they are fairly un-shockable) I would say it's probably a better film for a younger audience than a typical "kids" movie. It gives you a lot to think about and handles it in a sensitive manner. A good family film but expect some detailed questions on cannibalism to follow and a lively discussion on in the event of an apocalypse who would be eaten first! 

Overall, it was a great antidote to the sugar rush of Easter, being neither too bitter or too sweet.

(All images sourced from Google.)

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