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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-10 of 21 reviews(4 star). See all 92 reviews
Take the surrealist `sixties British comedy The Bed Sitting Room, blend it with elements of Sweeney Todd and if you have enough French humour to add into the mix then you may come somewhere close to Delicatessen. The film is set during an unknown time after some sort of unspecified but presumably apocalyptic event. Food is scarce and the delicatessen at the base of an apartment block accepts grain as currency in exchange for meat, but with there being no land suitable for pasture, meat is a scarce commodity - luckily butcher and landlord Clapet has a regular supply of livestock.

After answering a job advert, ex-circus performer Louison finds himself Clapet's latest lodger and on site handyman, though it's a position which tends not to last for long. Unaware that he is due to be sold as steaks, joints and mince, Louison is enthusiastic about his role and manages to befriend the daughter of his employer. There's little plot to this French cult title, instead we have a strange set-up full of even stranger characters and it's their quirky ways which form the main substance of the picture. Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's collaboration has resulted in a dark comedy with plenty of visual humour from the funniest sex scene ever to botched suicide attempts. The grim plot doesn't make this a grisly film, it's light hearted, wacky and farcical in the right places. It's almost like a cartoon translated into live-action and Dominique Pinon is superb in the lead role, his face is oddly handsome and so expressive, he has an almost childlike quality to him which makes him captivating to watch. Every single character in the apartment block is uniquely odd and there isn't one weak performance in the entire film, though their personalities tend to be larger than life and over-the-top, it never looks contrived or fake, it's a strangely plausible world which has been created for them.

For those who have never seen the film before, the Blu-Ray transfer may appear shocking at first with large levels of film grain. This was a very low budget film though and much of the grain is for artistic effect - especially during the outdoor scenes where we get a hint of the ruins. There is still a surprising amount of detail and it's a massive improvement over the DVD, maybe the DVD compression struggled to balance between texture and grain, but on the Blu-Ray the details of fabrics and faces are excellent given the nature of the source material. There's a hue to the overall picture (much like in Amelie or MicMacs) and the golden look is initially striking but your eyes adjust and it seems perfectly natural after a while, it also adds a fantasy feel to events. Initially the bonuses don't look extensive but there are some tasty morsels here. The 'making-of' is interesting if slightly rough looking, and a retrospective look by cast and crew reveals the fondness still felt for this quirky film. The directorial style has been described to as Terry Gilliam-esque, Jeunet himself discusses Gilliam's influence and its clear that the film is something off a nod to the ex-Python. A trailer consisting of the previously mentioned sex scene makes me chuckle every time - it's like a late night Morcambe and Wise sketch! This release also comes with a rather lovely book to accompany the film,

In a nutshell: A truly fun film which is loved by those who consider it essential viewing (me included), the pace dips slightly towards the water-filled ending but what a brilliant way to start a career for Jeunet, his trademark eccentric ensembles works well here and went on to produce one of the best films of 2009 with MicMacs.
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on 7 June 2013
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.
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VINE VOICEon 19 October 2004
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!
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VINE VOICEon 11 November 2005
"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.
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on 16 April 2006
This is a lovely, sick comedy set in post-apocalyptic France, where a butcher satisfies his customers' demands for meat, which is in short supply, by killing and butchering innocent people (including some of his lodgers.) The dramatic events of the film centre around the fact that the butcher's daughter has fallen in love with one of her father's prospective victims. This atmospherically shot film has a real intelligent, dark wit and is great fun to watch.
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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!!!!
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on 11 November 2008
This is film noir set I presume in post world war 2 Paris, but anyway the details don't matter except to say that the starkness of the landscape is echoed in that of peoples' struggle to survive. The fascination is that up to an almost ridiculous point a pretense of adhering to various social conventions is kept up while all the while macabre scenes lurk and hang unseen ( but not unheard ) . It is certainly of the 'elephant in the room ' variety that few wish to either acknowledge or confront - you will soon work it out for yourself.The film revels in rapaciousness. You will find yourself laughing at absurdity, at touching moments of human urbanity,but also at things which normally would be too chilling to be funny. Very well acted and tightly directed.
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on 14 April 2010
If you are looking for a post apocalyptic, bittersweet love story with a cannibalistic subplot then you've come to the right film.

After some kind of catastrophe meat has become impossible to find but a local butcher keeps supplying his loyal customers (who are also his tenants) with their daily iron requirement by all means necessary. I'm not giving away the plot by revealing "they're killing and eating humans". We find this out very early on in the film. Not long after we realise that the customers are in on the secret as well. This shocking fact is secondary to the main plot of the film, which itself is probably secondary to the style in which it is made.

The butcher employs resident handymen for the building but the main reason for employing them is to get a fresh supply of meat. A former circus performer (Louison) is the latest for the chopping block but he's a quirky character and beguiles the butcher's daughter and she decides to save him. We get amusing glimpses into the lives of the other residents, each one more bizarre than the one before.

This film is directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. I've seen Amelie (directed by Jeunet) and the styles are similar. Both films create their own worlds in which we become fascinated by the lives of the quirky characters that inhabit them. However, while Amelie, while in a world of her own, at least lived a recognisable Paris Delicatessen is set in a fantasy world of what looks like the only building still standing in a large city. However there is still television and electricity (and postmen) because the plot requires them.

Like Amelie the charm of the film is the little details in the film that may or may not be crucial to the plot, such as the short sighted daughter buying two of everything in case of breakages and Louison's saw playing talents.

The overall tone is definitely positive and funny (really, even with the cannibalism). Basically the motto is love will conquer all. Thank God, Caro and Jeunet for that.
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Set in a rotting wasteland where food and barter replace money, Dominque Pinon's unemployed clown (a gentle-natured cross between Popeye and Klaus Kinski) takes a job as handyman-cum-dinner in a rundown apartment owned by a butcher who hacks up the hired help to feed his other, not too morally particular residents. Complications ensue when he falls in love with the butcher's daughter and she enlists the aid of an underground group of vegetarian terrorists to help her save him. The butcher himself is beginning to feel remorse ("No-one is entirely evil. It's the circumstances, or we don't know what we're doing") but that doesn't stop him trying to make mincemeat out of his prospective son-in-law. There's more, but you probably won't believe me.

What starts out as just your average cannibalism comedy gradually wins you over, drawing you into the damaged lives of the block's credibly eccentric inhabitants, and even comes up with an entirely new way to get out of a trapped bathroom, but not one I'd recommend trying at home (unless you're being pursued by a cannibalistic butcher, of course). Nice little touches abound, such as the butcher's clumsy short-sighted daughter buying two of everything in case she breaks them or the granny who has tin cans tied to her so that her family can find her if she gets lost (no prizes for guessing what happens to her). You may not think you'll like it, but you probably will in spite of yourself...

The muted sepia tones are well captured, and there's an excellent extras package as well, including a genuinely informative audio commentary by Jean-Pierre Jeunet on a disc well worth buying - if it's to your taste.
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on 20 February 2002
Well, having seen 'The City of Lost Children' and finding it absolutely mesmerising, I decided to catch a glimpse at this, their first film together. While I do not believe it is as good as TCOLC, I still feel that this really is an excellent piece of cinema. The cinematography and colour scheme work brilliantly, to create a real netherworld feel. The plot, about a butcher, who kills the clients who live in his flat and sells them to his customers, finds the perfect balance between grotesque and humour. The acting is hammed up to the right degree, with a romance at the core of the film to warm the coldest of hearts. The techniques of this directing duo ( such as scratched records and huge reactions to the simplest of events) really adds to that netherworld feel. There is no attempt or desire on the part of directors to show you a part of real life, it is their aim to dazzle you, and for me they succeed. While this may not be to everyone's taste, this is certainly recommended viewing for all those who get carried away by the style more than the substance (even though this film has both). If you like this, you'll love The City of Lost Children, which is a CHitty Chitty Bang Bang film for adults
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