presents a post-apocalyptic scenario set entirely in a dank and gloomy building where the landlord operates a delicatessen on the ground floor. But this is an altogether meatless world, so the butcher-landlord keeps his customers happy by chopping unsuspecting victims into cutlets, and he's sharpening his knife for the new tenant (French comic actor Dominque Pinon) who's got the hots for the butcher's near-sighted daughter. Delicatessen
is a feast (if you will) of hilarious vignettes, slapstick gags, and sweetly eccentric characters, including a man in a swampy room full of frogs, a woman doggedly determined to commit suicide (she never gets it right) and a pair of brothers who make toy sound boxes that "moo" like cows.
It doesn't amount to much as a story, but that hardly matters; this is the kind of comedy that leaps from a unique wellspring of imagination and inspiration, and it's handled with such visual virtuosity that you can't help but be mesmerised. French co-directors of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro have wildly inventive imaginations that gravitate to the darker absurdities of human behaviour, and their visual extravagance is matched by impressive technical skill. There's some priceless comedy here, some of which is so inventive that you may feel the urge to stand up and cheer. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
On the DVD: the special features are pretty standard, with a trailer, "making of" featurette and footage of the rehearsal process. The audio commentary is supplied by Jeunet, which, although interesting, is in French and thus necessitates the use of subtitles which then obliterate the movie's own subtitles. Once the commentary is on it is virtually impossible to turn this option off without reloading the disc. However, the Dolby stereo works wonders for this film, which is rich in sound, and surprisingly the 1.85:1 letterbox ratio is perfect for a film that is grainy by design. --Nikki Disney
United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: French ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), German ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), Italian ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), Spanish ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), Dutch ( Subtitles ), English ( Subtitles ), German ( Subtitles ), Italian ( Subtitles ), Portuguese ( Subtitles ), Spanish ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (1.85:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary, Interactive Menu, Making Of, Scene Access, Teaser(s), Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: A post-apocalyptic future becomes the setting for pitch black humor in this visually intricate French comedy. The action takes place within a single apartment complex, which is owned by the same man that operates the downstairs butcher shop. It's a particularly popular place to live, thanks to the butcher's uncanny ability to find excellent cuts of meat despite the horrible living conditions outside. The newest building superintendent, a former circus clown, thinks he has found an ideal living situation. All that changes, however, when he discovers the true source of the butcher's meat, and that he may be the next main course. This dark tale is played out in a brilliantly designed, glorious surreal alternate world reminiscent of the works of director Terry Gilliam, who co-presented the film's American release. Like Gilliam, co-directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro hail from an animation background, and have a fondness for extravagant visuals, absurdist plot twists, and a sense of humor that combines sharp satire with broad slapstick and gross-out imagery. This mixture may displease the weak of stomach, but those attuned to the film's sensibility will be delighted by the obvious technical virtuosity and wicked sense of humor.
SCREENED/AWARDED AT: BAFTA Awards, Catalonian International Film Festival, Ceasar Awards, European Film Awards, Fantasporto Awards, ...Delicatessen (1991)