Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
I'm a butcher, but I don't mince words"
on 21 November 2011
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.