on 10 October 2003
On its release, this French film caused much interest and praise due to its freshness and vitality. The joint debut of directors Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet has distinctive visual style, a surreal yet clever plot, hilarious comic pieces and comedy timing making it a delightful, colourful, imaginative film of many surprises that refuses to become classified within any genre. You want the plot? You sure? Some time in the future, society has begun to collapse. A circus performer, Louison, gratefully takes a room in an apartment block owned by butcher Clapet as it’s advertised as being rent free in return for odd jobs. He encounters the building’s offbeat tenants such as the toy making Cube brothers, Aurore Interligator - who hears voices urging her to commit suicide and Mr Potin who lives in a water filled room filled with frogs and snails which he dines upon. The offer of free rent is just a trick to lure people who Clapet then butchers and sells off as meat to the other tenants. However, his shy daughter Julie falls in love with Louison and decides to save him - something that requires her to make a deal with the Trogolodists, the vegetarian terrorists that live in the sewers. Did I mention surreal? OK, so there’s the ‘plot’. For me, the beauty and magic of ‘Delicatessen’ is to just sit back, watch and enjoy the unexpected and hilarious pleasures unfold. An inventive film experience - an adventure, a comedy and a sheer joy to savour as it sparkles with originality.
The special extras are real bonus features that add so much to the collectability of this little gem. The movie itself is in French or German, Italian or Spanish Audio Dialogue with choices of English, German, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish Subtitles. The aforementioned special features are a fasinating Director’s Commentary from Jeunet; ‘Making Of’ Feature (Fine Slices (and delicacies) From Diane Bertrand); Archive Footage ‘From the Archives of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’; 6 Teasers and a Trailer. It is rated 15 and is 95 Minutes of hilarious, eccentric, innovative cinema. I loved every one of those minutes.
A Trivia fact: Caro and Jeunet next went on to make the equally eccentric and much loved ‘The City of Lost Children’. Jeunet was then tempted to U.S. mainstream on his own where he directed the disappointing ‘Alien: Resurrection’ before returning to France to return to his love of innovative and original film making with the enchanting Worldwide arthouse hit ‘Amelie’. Surprisingly, Caro has yet to direct another film to date.
on 20 February 2005
A macabre little fantasia from Jean-Pierre Jeunet (who would go on to make "Amelie" and "A very long engagement"). He uses a simple plot device. Let this be a France which has succumbed to some dystopian nightmare, which has slipped into a condition of economic collapse where there is no food ... and the currency has dissolved, leaving barter the only form of exchange. This is a world where a bag of lentils will take you places. Now, take a dingy, dank tenement block, set on its own ... maybe some distance beyond the outskirts of town ... maybe not. Fill its rooms with an oddball bunch of tenants. Let the tenement belong to a psychotic butcher, who remains in business by harvesting the handymen he lures into the spare apartment. Now, let's complicate the action: let the latest handyman be some scrawny little bloke, a former circus performer, and let the butcher's daughter fall for him ... and enlist the aid of the underground to try to protect him from her father's meat cleaver.
Like I say, a simple little plot device. It works beautifully. 'Delicatessen' is quite a remarkable little film. Shot on a low budget, it is exemplary for anyone wanting to make movies: it helps if you have talent as a director and can enlist a highly competent crew of technicians and professionals; you will need an excellent script; and a superb cast won't go amiss.
It's a lovely script. The test of a good story is how quickly you suspend disbelief. You are riveted from the opening shots. You absorb the notion that this is a world with no currency and little food, where, frankly, anything is possible. You settle to enjoy the film. And your attention is held by the cast. These are wonderfully idiosyncratic roles and worthy performances - you settle to enjoy beautifully imagined characters, created by a blend of excellent screenwriting and wholly convincing acting. The action is both plot-driven and character-driven - the characters enlist your sympathies and engage your sense of humour.
And the humour is beautifully choreographed - watch the scenes with the bedsprings!
Jeunet's world of 'Delicatessen' is an extravagant fantasia. He never explains what has gone wrong in the world. Life goes on. Two brothers earn an incongruous living making those annoying toys that moo like a cow! One voluptuous tenant works at the oldest profession. Another devises foolproof means to kill herself. Our hero, the new handyman, plays the saw and dreams of happy days as a circus clown. Everyone watches TV. It seems that the only industry to have survived is the entertainment industry ... or, at least, the slapstick side of it.
It's an ironic take on French culture. French cuisine has become cannibalism - doubtless the tenants know how to make a boudin or pâté out of human remains. At least one of the tenants maintains tradition, though - he breeds snails and frogs in his flooded apartment.
But who are the underground, the troglodytes who inhabit the sewers and who are portrayed as bringing down society? The reality is that this is not a film with a hidden message or cryptic critique of French society. It's not a film in which you search for meaning. Jeunet offers fantasy - quirky, droll, surreal, but fantasy. The fantasy exists not to elaborate some political message, but to sustain the story. It's a plot device - the fantasy provides the vehicle for the story of love and butchery. It makes the inexplicable explicable.
A fine, funny movie with a superb ensemble cast and great direction. A film to savour ... and to speculate on how much it influenced the 'League of Gentlemen'.
on 25 March 2002
This film is a must for those who like the weird humour of Amelie. But before I mislead you the style and black humour are the only links between this and Amelie. The film is set in a post-nucleur holocaust France, where meat is in short supply.
The response of the local buthcher shop is to provide a meat supply from the nearby changing clientele of a guest house (I'm not giving anything away here as the cover has a human head on a plate!!!) As I said black humour! The plot revolves around Dominque Pinon (Also In Amelie) as a new arrival to the guest house...
The butchers daughter falls in love with him causing an exciting, funny turn of events, exemplified by the a vigilante vegetarian group!
The film is a magnificent montage of different filming techniques, the use of colour and sound to convey the strangeness of the time.
Simply put it is brilliant, funny and a great way to spend an evening- even if it does put you off meat for a while!!!!
Delicatessen is a French film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who is best known for his work on Amelie, France's highest grossing film. I was forced to watch Delicatessen because I'm taking part in a symposium next week for which I have to do a 15 minute presentation and for some reason I thought it would be great to do it on a French film that I haven't seen yet. I know - smart choice. However, I'm sure that even if I hadn't needed to watch Delicatessen for educational purposes, I would've picked it up from the library at some point to see whether or not Jean-Pierre Jeunet's other works were anywhere near as good as Amelie.
Delicatessen is set in a post-apocalyptic France where meat is scarce and everything is rationed. Despite this, one butcher is never short of a good cut of meat. Unsurprisingly, his methods for obtaining meat aren't exactly orthodox. A former circus clown comes to the butcher's shop after seeing an ad in a paper for a job and moves into the apartment block. Everything seems perfectly normal at first, but the butcher's daughter starts to fall for the ex-circus clown and tries to warn him not to leave his room after dark.
This film seems to fit under several different genres as it encapsulates elements of romance, black comedy and satire. It's difficult to judge whether or not there was a good plot as the focus of French films is completely different to American films. French films spend a lot less time on the story and the plot and more on the art of cinema itself, so to speak. I wouldn't say that there was a conclusive plot to this story, but the ideas presented and the snippets of story that unfolded were very interesting and engaging. There were many plot twists and turns that I was not expecting at all and this is one of the perks of French cinema, because most of the time you haven't got a clue what's coming next!
This movie is incredibly sensory both visually and in sound. This was probably my favourite thing about the film as it created a brilliant atmosphere and there was such intricate detail put into every movement. What I loved was that much of the soundtrack was enhanced by repeated sounds made by everyday objects by the characters on screen and this also added to the humour. There are several moments when the entire focus is on something that seems so completely irrelevant, and yet somehow, the French turn it into something beautiful.
Everything is carried out with such precision and I love the detail that goes into French films that you would never find in a Hollywood film. There were several moments when I found myself staring fondly at the screen thinking 'this is just lovely', and that's a feeling I often get when watching French films, but rarely when watching a Hollywood film.
The acting is absolutely brilliant and very convincing. I don't think I've seen a French film yet that has had any 'bad' acting in it and the quality of French films is generally a lot higher than Hollywood films. Even though this was a black comedy/satire, I didn't think that anything was even remotely ridiculous, even though it was - that is how convincing the acting was.
The poster for this movie is less than impressive. When choosing a film to watch with hundreds of titles in front of me, a good eye-catching poster will be enough to entice me to watch that film. Delicatessen's poster featuring a simple golden pig did not appeal to me at all and I had absolutely no idea what sort of film it was. After watching it and taking some time to think, you could say that this golden pig represents the value of meat in this film, but not that many people take the time to consider these things so deeply. Despite it's less than impressive poster, I thought that this film was excellent. It is definitely not the type of film that I usually like to watch; however, I still found it highly enjoyable and there were some great cinematic elements.
It was full of suspense and mystery as well as romance and comedy, combining a whole host of different genres to make this an intriguing film.
on 22 November 2012
Quirky, brilliantly filmed, interesting, often comical, well acted, loved the sets.
Dark, macabre, grotesque, often a bit sickening (if you think about it), over-extended
ending which becomes a bit of a farce.
Worth watching but don't rush out to buy it.
on 15 July 2004
What can you possibly say about a post-apocalyptic surrealist black comedy about the landlord of a decaying apartment building who creates cannibalistic meals for his tenants who are some of the weirdest characters you will ever find on film? This is a world in which protein is hard to come by and the little old lady across the hall is starting to look good. "Delicatessen," a 1991 French film directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, is certainly imaginative but equally rude, a world in which good taste is certainly a relative concept. Of all the tenants trying to avoid being served up as dinner by their neighbors, the best is the woman who keeps trying to commit suicide but whose attempts, um, go slightly astray (I will say no more). This film is certainly on my evolving list of Top 10 Black Comedies, certainly much better than "Eating Raoul," the obvious American cinematic counterpart.
In a post-apocalyptic world, while the Australians (in Mad Max) are more concerned with petrol and V8s, and the Americans are making sure the mail gets through (The Postman), the French will, of course, be more concerned with food. Delicatessen never hints at what has brought society down, but is centred on an apartment block owned by the butcher whos shop is on the ground floor. In some ways the building is one of the real stars of the film, with its network of pipes and tubes which are used by the various inhabitants to eavesdrop on or communicate with their neighbours.
Jean-Claude Dreyfus is perfect as the butcher and dominates every scene he is in, and the rest of the main cast fill their roles admirably, although the members of the underground resistance (the Troglodistes) never get beyond a second dimension.
When this film is funny it is absolutely hilarious. At other times it is just amazingly surreal, and is never less than watchable, right from the very beginning which is a title sequence David Fincher would be proud of. Really. The title sequence is worth seeing just on its own.
Special mention has to go to the menus on the DVD, which are beautiful. Some of the options are difficult to read unless you get closer to the screen, but nevertheless these are some of the best menus I have ever seen.
I have a small quibble with some of the translation for the sub-titles, which are sometimes a bit literal rather than looking for the suitable colloquial English, (For example: using the word 'shawl' for a man's scarf jars a little bit) but generally the sub-titles are easy to follow and not too intrusive.
This is one successful French film which is unlikely to be given the big-budget Hollywood treatment, so don't wait for the big-name remake: just watch this one now!
on 20 March 2008
Clapet (Jean Claude Dreyfuss) owns a butcher shop and the tenements above it. He is looking for a maintenance man and advertises in the Hard Times paper. An unemployed clown (Dominique Pinon) applies for the job, and so sets the scene for the ensuing lunacy.
As meat is in such short supply, Clapet has an unusual technique of procuring meat for his clientele. Pinon being next for the chopping board. However, this time, his daughter has fallen in love with the 'new boy' and tries to thwart her father's plans.
The uncanny ensemble of characters that dwell at this dilapidated tenancy include 2 gentlemen that make moo sound toys boxes, a lady whose suicide attempts are perpetually hapless, and a Mr Potin, who lives in a swamp and dines on frogs.
Clowns looking for employment as maintenance men, squeaky bed springs, curious lodgers, an introduction to the subterranean `troglodytes', meat as currency......and love. Coupled with brilliant cinematography, and macabre humour, there are some exquisite moments in this film.
on 14 September 2010
Case Type - Book style case with removeable booklet.
Disc - 50GB, MPEG-4 AVC encoded, Regions A and B.
Video - 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio in a 16:9 frame, Colour, 1080p/24fps
Audio - Original French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo and dubbed German and Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo.
Subtitles - Optional English, German, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Japanese, Castilian Spanish and Latin American Spanish. Subtitles avaialble on all supplements too.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet Commentary.
'Main Course Pieces' Retrospective Documentary (1hr 5mins).
'Fine Cooked Pork Meats' behind the scenes featurette (13mins).
'Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Archives' featurette (8mins).
Theatrical Trailer .
Teaser Trailer compilation.
Censorship? - No censorship or cuts. The BBFC passed the film with a certficate 15 without cuts, and it contains one use of strong language, some moderate violence, a comedic sex scene, and a cannibalism and suicide theme.
'Delicatessen' and not a film that requires repeated viewing, however it does get more enjoyable on repeated viewings. The atmosphere of the film is similar to Terry Gilliam's work. Most notably 'Brazil' (Jean-Pierre Jeunet mentions this in the documentary). Set in a post-apocalyptic France where meat is rare and the form of currency is in grain. There is no definate time period. It looks like a dirty, depressingly possible future yet could quite easily be set in the 1940's (like Gilliam's 'Brazil'). The dark humour is sick but very tastefully done - A butcher resorts to cannibalism and kills his tennants, a Woman tries numerous ways to take her own life and constantly fails. However the films best scene is the superb editing of the sex scene. We don't actually see the couple copulating only the matress and bed springs creaking. This is intercut with various characters in the film - one beats a rug, one paints the wall, another is using his bike pump. Its hilarious and is also used as the films theatrical trailer.
The Blu-ray is an exceptional package. The picture is superb with no sign of edge enhancement or DNR. There is plenty of grain (as intended by the film makers according to interviews in the documentary) and the film looks sharp with deep blacks and retains the orangey look the director's wanted. The audio is presented in the original stereo and not re-mixed or made into false 5.1. The dialogue can be low in some scenes but overall it sounds good. Supplementary material is excellent with behind the scenes footage and an excellent brand new documentary (exclusive to this Blu-ray edition?). The disc is same one used throughout America and Europe (hence Regions A and B encoded).
'Delicatessen' is a wonderful film full of surprises and surreal dark humour. Heavily influenced by Terry Gilliam, Sergio Leone, and even the nightmarish dream sequence could have been directed by David Lynch. This blu-ray is the best version to get with a superb transfer and a decent documentary, and i feel its definately worth upgrading from dvd. A worthy addition to anyones blu-ray library. Recommended.
"Delicatessen" is a dazzling and original futuristic fantasy set in a bizarre ,gothic tenement block above a butcher's shop.Saturated with shades of ochre the film has a distinctly other-worldly and eerie feel about it. "Delicatessen" is full of some the strangest and most eccentric characters imaginable; most of them are cannibals and the weird ensemble include a murderous butcher, a down and out clown,a man whose room has been converted into a frog and snail infested swamp, elderly brothers who make animal noise making toys and a bungling vegetarian ,sewer-dwelling guerrilla army. There are some superb scenes , great acting and cinematography in "Delicatessen" linked together by an unusual but captivating love story. "Delicatessen" is similar in atmosphere and content to the likes of "Crimewave" , "Brazil" and Jean Luc Godard's "Weekend" and like these films it is a winning combination of black humour and the absurd.I would have given "Delicatessen" a 5 star rating had it not been for the distraction of the somewhat irritating Troglodist sub-plot.