Delicatessen (1991) Poster

(1991)

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8/10
One most inventive and original films to grace the silver screen
The_Void9 September 2004
Delicatessen is hard to pin down under a specific genre label; it's a surreal black comedy, a human drama, a post-apocalyptic horror movie, a twisted thriller, a futuristic fantasy; and all in all; one of the strangest and most original films I've ever seen.

In this fantasy world, the world has been ravaged and food is now in short supply. This has therefore made food invaluable and it is being used as currency. Things are traded for with grain, corn and lentils, but not everyone can afford the luxury of food, and some have had to resort to cannibalism to continue to enjoy eating. Our scene opens at a delicatessen in an unspecified location in France, and we are treated to an absolutely delicious sequence (no pun intended) in which a man is desperately trying to hide himself in the trash can. We later find that the reason for this is that this particular delicatessen hires handymen and keeps them long enough to fatten them up, and then they are eaten by the delicatessen's butcher and the inhabitants of the apartment building in which they live. The story really gets going when an ex-clown turns up at the shop, wanting the handyman's job, which has...become available. The plot thickens when the new handyman meets, and later falls in love with, the butcher's daughter; Julie. Julie knows what goes on at the delicatessen and can't allow her new found love to meet the same fate as the others, and therefore does the only thing she can do; hire a band of vegetarian freedom fighters to save her love from becoming dinner for the butcher and his customers.

Delicatessen is directed by the team of Marc Caro (whom, I'm afraid, I am unfamiliar with) and the more well known Jean-Pierre Jeunet, director of a few lesser known modern classics, but best known for the enthusiastic 'Amelie'. The film is brought to life by a brilliant ensemble cast. Dominique Pinon (who also featured in Jeunet's Amelie, Alien 4 and City of Lost Children) takes the lead role of the clown turned handyman. His performance is both understated and magical; as he simultaneously manages to entice the viewer into his performance, and yet keeps his character in the realms of reality (a place in which this film doesn't take place). Jean-Claude Dreyfus is the real star of the show, however, as the extroverted and over the top butcher. His performance certainly isn't subdued, to say the least; and every moment that he is on screen is a delight. In a stark contrast to Dreyfus, Marie-Laure Dougnac; the young lady that plays his daughter and love interest for Pinon is very down to earth, and is the most 'normal' character in the film...although there's still room for her to be a nearly blind klutz. The rest of the ensemble comes together excellently, and not a single actor in the film performs below par or looks out of place; and there's not many films that you can say that for.

This film isn't quite like anything else I've ever seen. In fact, the only film I can think of that is similar to this is Terry Gilliam's futuristic fantasy; Brazil. The film draws it's originality from it's plot mainly, which is extremely surreal and inventive in itself, but it's not just that which makes Delicatessen one of a kind; it's all the smaller plot points. How many films do you know that feature a bullshit detector? (that is set off when the butcher tells it that "life is wonderful", no less). The way that the film looks is also wonderfully different; Delicatessen has a yellow hue, which lends it a style that is very dull and dreary; and that does the film no end of favours when you consider it's core subject material. The yellow hue also makes the film almost feel like a moving comic book, which is one of the things that gives the film it's surreal and absurd edge. I'm a big fan of atmospheric films, which is one of the main reasons why I like horror so much; and this film also has an atmosphere like no other. It's the way that the yellow-ish buildings look next to the dark skyline, and the way that the film uses darkness and smoke to make it more horrifying (see roof sequence towards the end) that gives this film the finishing touch to it's already distinct style.

The love story in the film is sweet and tender, and this very much offsets the dark overtones of the rest of the film. This is nice, as during the scenes between the clown (Pinon) and Julie (Dougnac), the film allows itself to indulge in humour that isn't dark like the rest of the film, and you get the impression that it's enjoying itself a little more. This is just another thing in a long line of great things that make Delicatessen a great movie. Another of these things is the more minor characters. I have never seen a more motley crew than the one in this film. As previously mentioned, Julie, although not entirely 'normal', is the most normal character in the film; the rest of it is populated by lunatics. There's a man with a house full of frogs, a woman that continually tries to commit suicide, a man that puts cans on his deaf mother in law so they know where she is etc. The support cast's wackiness don't add anything much to the story itself (which only really requires them to be there), but the fact that they are different and imaginative is another of the film's absurd edges, and another thing that makes this film different from everything else.

Delicatessen concentrates more on being absurd and surreal than it does in posing deep and philosophical questions. Personally, I have no problem with that, but those who do want a movie to be deep and meaningful might find the film disappointing because of that. That is not to say that the film completely lacks depth or meaning; although a moral to the story doesn't seem to present itself, the film takes it's depth from the 'what if' scenario that it presents; "if the world's food supply became too short to feed the population, would you resort to cannibalism or join the vegetarian freedom fighters?". It's a very general message; but it's definitely there.

Overall, Delicatessen is a sublime piece of cinema. You wont find imagination and inventiveness to the extent that it is shown here in most films, and that alone is reason enough to warrant this classic status. Delicatessen is everything I say it is and more; and overall the film is one of the true highlights of the 1990's. A gem.
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10/10
Perfect for My Tastes
Brandt Sponseller24 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Clapet (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) is a butcher who runs the generically named "Delicatessen" housed in a bombed-out looking apartment building filled to the brim with eccentrics. Since food is scarce in the film's world, Clapet has devised a scheme to provide himself and his tenants with a regular supply of meat--he runs ads in the local paper for handymen, and after they fix a few things on the building, they become the main course. When the film begins, we see a man who tries unsuccessfully to escape. The bulk of the film is the story of Stan Luison (Dominique Pinon), who is the latest person to answer Clapet's advertisement.

This film is definitely an acquired taste, so to speak. I've acquired the taste, and for me, it's a 10 out of 10. Delicatessen is set in a weird, post-apocalyptic, alternate universe that is not entirely dissimilar to the setting of Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985)--in fact, this could very easily be the same world as Brazil, just that that film is situated in its titular locale, and this would be a less fashionable section of France. Like Brazil, most of the production design--the costumes, music, television programming, etc.--suggests an historic setting, say about the 1940s, but it also seems to be set in the future, or at least an alternate present.

In place of Brazil's elaborate, chaotic technology, directors Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet have created a multi-leveled Rube Goldberg construction. Goldberg was an American cartoonist and sculptor known for drawings of incredibly complex contraptions that often performed simple tasks. This recurs from small scales--the interconnected tubes in the building and the uses of the "Australian", to medium scales—Aurore Interligator's (Silvie Laguna) attempted suicide set-ups, to the grand scale of the film, where each character, or set of characters, is interlocking in different ways that has a small, but complex causal effect on the whole. Sometimes, these concatenations are more simultaneous than causal, as in the ingenious "bedspring symphony" near the beginning of the film.

Appropriate to its ultimate subject matter, the visuals are focused on decay and dinginess. The delicatessen is filthy and the apartment building is falling apart. The tenants own a lot of broken things, and for those things that aren't broken, there's a good chance they'll get broken as the film progresses. (And by the way, if you love the production design and atmosphere of the film, and wouldn't mind seeing something with a similar mood, but serious instead of a surrealistic "black comedy" like Delicatessen, check out David Cronenberg's Spider (2002)).

All the tenants have various eccentricities, often involving food. One of the most interesting tenants is an old man who decided to harvest his own meals by turning his apartment into a swamp, via regularly running water flooding the apartment, and inhabited by frogs and snails. He has a huge pile of empty snail shells stacking up in a corner. Water is a motif in the film--probably because of its relationship to food, as a means of necessary nourishment, although ironically, in a world characterized by food shortages, water is mostly wasted in the film.

While not a depressing film (it wasn't to me, at least, although not that I dislike "depressing" films), Delicatessen isn't exactly uplifting, either, although there is a message of hope at the end, I suppose. It's definitely not for all audiences, but if you're a fan of Gilliam, Cronenberg, David Lynch, and similar directors, you should definitely try a meal at this Delicatessen.
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10/10
Masterpiece
Ben Grimm15 October 2004
If Citizen Kane is the number one movie to see to learn anything about cinematography, this might as well be at number 2.

Delicatessen succeeds at creating a totally separate, consistent and believable universe with a very distinct atmosphere. The brown and green colors add to the weirdness of this universe.

Is it horror? Yes and no. Is it a comedy? Yes and no. Is it brilliant? Oh yes!

Everybody involved in the making of this picture gave it its best. The camera work is brilliant, the sets are simply amazing (with the final bathroom scene at the pinnacle), the editing and pace is breathtaking.

This could have been a very dark movie (and I guess a few Hollywood directors would have tried to turn it into a splatter movie and fail miserably), but the humor is just light, off-beat and hilarious enough to make it into a consistent and bearable whole. Every universe has its humor, and a strange universe has strange humor. Jacques Tati would have loved Delicatessen.

Julie's 'tea ceremony' without her glasses, the mattress spring test, Aurore's failing suicide contraptions, it's all funny as hell. I hope everyone who is even marginally involved in making movies gets to see Delicatessen and learns from its greatness. We could sure use a touch of genius in most of them ...

10/10
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7/10
Original movie from the director of 'Amelie'
rbverhoef30 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
'Delicatessen' is a very original comedy from Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who also directed the great 'Amélie'. It tells the story of Louison (Dominique Pinon) who is the new helper of a landlord named Clapet (Jean-Claude Dreyfus). Clapet is a butcher and in a world where food is rare he prepares cannibalistic meals for the people in his building. Louison is the new meal and the people in the building wait for Clapet to kill him so they can eat. Clapet's daughter Julie (Marie-Laure Dougnac) falls in love with Louison and to save him she seeks help from an underground group.

You have read the above and you must understand 'Delicatessen' is not a normal movie. Although its subject is close to very scary the movie is a comedy and to be honest it is very funny at times. Listen to the way people talk here. Especially the conversation between the butcher and a mailman is very funny. The underground group gets a lot of laughs as well. The movie hints at real horror images but never gives us that. Most of the time the tension is broken with something funny.

'Delicatessen' is not only pretty funny, it looks terrific as well. From the great opening sequence to the last shot it is visually perfect. The production design and especially the cinematography add a lot to the movie's whole atmosphere. May be it is not for everyone, some will find it ridiculous or the idea too lugubrious, may be it is, but the way the subject is handled is the right way. At least it is interesting and therefore already worth seeing.
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A sublime fusion of sickening grotesquerie and sentimental clowning.
praemius16 September 2000
Jeunet and Caro, with the help of their familiar repertory of actors, create a deeply disturbing and violent world where only a few shreds of conventional social mores remain. These scraps of morality only serve to delineate more clearly the overall decline and collapse of their dystopia. We see a butcher's shop; the proprietor, played by Jean-Claude Dreyfus, is evil almost to the point of caricature. He only manages to survive by killing his lodgers when they get behind with the rent and selling them as meat. However, the situation is given an added twist when we learn that all the lodgers are aware of this; a woman who is sold a joint of mother sheds a couple of stifled tears and mutters she would have liked to have said goodbye. Similarly, the butcher is most apologetic when he accidentally chops off the foot of one of his clients who has paid his rent in full.

Into this hellish world is placed someone with his moral values relatively intact. In this case, it is a circus performer played by the marvellously rubber-faced Dominique Pinon. A less engaging actor might have made this character seem two-dimensional, as he appears to have no faults whatsoever (except a set of over-mobile lips). He enthrals the lodgers' children with his games, is immensely chivalrous to the butcher's daughter and plays the musical saw. Finally, an old edition of his act is broadcast on the flickering black-and-white television, and even the most bloodthirsty lodgers are amazed and delighted. The butcher's jealousy is roused; Good and Innocence is forced to fight Evil and Hatred.

As such, the plot is relatively straightforward. It is the sheer surrealistic imagination that Jeunet and Caro bring to their films that prevent them being unremittingly bleak or simple morality tales. They display a brilliant sense of musical timing- the whole building frequently becomes an orchestra of creaking bed-springs, croaking frogs, and crackling radios; above all this soars a love-duet of a cello and a musical saw. The faded `look' of the film complements this. With the exception of a single television remote control, nothing here would be out of place in in a exhibition of 40s and 50s design. In `The City of Lost Children' the exuberance of the design threatens to swamp the slender storyline on occasions; here, the more `grown-up' themes and less fantastic design go hand in hand.

(A word of warning about the video release- the subtitles appear to have been written be a couple of Frenchmen who really ought to have concentrated harder in their English classes at school. Apart from that, I wholeheartedly recommend this joyously grotesque film.)
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9/10
Inventive, stylish and darkly amusing
JBLOSS25 June 2001
This is a superb film. The look and design of the sets is unique and the narrative is certainly original!! I would place this film along with others like Being John Malkovich as it really did make me sit up and take notice. There are some truly great set pieces in the film particularly when the whole house starts to get into the same rhythm as the love makers on the top floor ( ripped off by an American Beer company I note in an advert ) and the botched suicide attempt too - hey I said it is darkly amusing!! I would say that there is not a weak performance amongst the cast in this evocative tale of futuristic cannibalism!! Basically, trying to describe this film makes it sound too bizarre but I highly recommend it to anyone who likes originality and their humour on the edge of darkness.
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10/10
absolutely riveting!!!!
Melding the perfect mixture of the visual grace of a silent film with a modern soundscape and bearing a twenty-first century post-apocalyptic sardonic sense of humor, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro's "Delicatessen" becomes one of the finest contemporary films.

This pitch black comedy delves into cannibalism and oddball romance in the same breath with equal gusto and therefore feels horrific, humorous, and haunting all at once. Every frame is a wonder of detail and originality that reinvigorates even the most jaded and long-time film viewer with the sense of rediscovering the art form. This is film-making in the highest regard worthy of praise, awe, and multiple viewings.
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8/10
The brilliant debut of Caro & Jeunet
In the late 70s, french director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and designer Marc Caro met and found they shared a lot of interests in the visual arts, their friendship soon became an artistic team that would spent the whole 80s making short films where the duo was able to explore and master the cinema language, perfecting their storytelling abilities and visual design skills, preparing themselves to make a career in film-making. Their efforts were crowned in 1991, when they were finally able to take their craft to a full feature length film, in the project that would become their breakthrough in the film industry and the proper beginning of their careers as filmmakers: the post-apocalyptic comedy "Delicatessen".

The world of "Delicatessen" is a dark bleak France where there is apparently no law and food is incredibly sparse (and is now used as currency). In this post-apocalyptic world, the residents of an apartment building in the middle of nowhere have found a solution to the hunger thanks to their landlord, the butcher Clapet (Jean-Claude Dreyfus), who from time to time kills the building's handyman to feed the bizarre group of tenants. One day, former clown Louison (Dominique Pinon) arrives to the building and gets the handyman position, but unfortunately for Clapet and the other tenants, the butcher's daughter Julie (Marie-Laure Dougnac) has fallen in love with Louison, and will do whatever is necessary to stop the madness of the delicatessen.

Written by Gilles Adrien (who also wrote many of the previous Jeunet & Caro shorts) as well as Jeunet & Caro themselves, "Delicatessen" is a wonderfully imaginative tale of sweet romance and hilarious black comedy that gives an unexpected light-hearted twist to a plot that most writers would treat as a serious subject matter. And surprisingly it works, as while the story is anything but complex, the assortment of strange (yet very human) characters that populate the world of "Delicatessen" truly become the movie's soul. And not only the main characters, as every single one of them (no matter how small the role is) is highly detailed and serves a specific function as if the whole building was one of the odd machines that still work in this post-apocalyptic portrait of France.

Visually, the film is simply sublime. Since the directors decided to divide responsibilities, Marc Caro took full control of the production design and the artistic elements of the movie, so with this freedom Caro's inventive artistic vision reaches new heights creating a movie that could be described as a moving canvas. Highly atmospheric, the french duo takes the cinematography (by Darius Khondji) to the next level mixing techniques and showing a whole range of influences that go from German Expressionism to 40s modernism, resulting in one of the most beautiful looking movies ever done. Still, the movie is more than a visual fest, as Jeunet (in charge of guiding the actors) shows a complete domain over his cast & crew keeping the many elements of the film working nicely in the right place.

As written above, the characters are the film's soul, and the ensemble of actors playing them really made a terrific job in the film. Dominique Pinon (who would become one of Jeunet's regular collaborators) delivers a subtle and charming performance as the ex-clown Louison. He is very believable in the role, and gives the character a very human touch, essential for the kind of character he is playing. The same can be said of Marie-Laure Dougnac, who plays Louison's love interest, Julie, one of the "more normal" characters in the movie. Jean-Claude Dreyfus as Clapet the Butcher is simply delightful as the story's "villian", and basically every member of the cast delivers an unforgettable performance no matter how long or short is their screen time (Silvie Laguna for example, is really wonderful).

"Delicatessen" is a solid debut by this two skillful french artists, and it already shows why the two quickly became an important team in the French fantasy cinema. Their very own brand of surrealist fantasy flows freely through the film making a unique visual fest (although it definitely goes a bit over-the-top at times), and while it doesn't reach the artistic level of their follow-up (the 1995 classic "La Cité Des Enfants Perdus"), it's still a nicely done movie that most importantly, never gets boring or tiresome. Unlike their later films, "Delicatessen" may not be for everyone, as it's mix of black comedy and surreal fantasy may seem at times too close to absurd to be enjoyable. However, those with a taste for the bizarre will find a great movie in this French comedy.

While "Delicatessen" still shows the excess of the young and raw talent of Jeunet & Caro, it's not hard to see why they became known worldwide after this initial success, as this movie shows the enormous potential of their skills as filmmakers. This brilliant mixture of genres is definitely a very recommended movie, and like "La Cité Des Enfants Perdus" ("City of the Lost Children"), an essential film of the 90s. 8/10
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9/10
An often ingenious, always entertaining cult favorite from France.
capkronos9 July 2003
If you think the cannibal movie subgenre has been milked dry... think again! This one will have you from the opening credits. It's set in a crumbling apartment building in 21st century, post-apocalyptic Paris where food is at a minimum, grains are used as money and the butcher downstairs runs a black-market deli providing clientel with what seems to be the only meat product available, and it ain't chicken.

Dominique Pinon is an ex-circus clown who answers a personal ad doing odd jobs there and encounters assorted weirdos while being targeted as the main course. There's a noncomformist who eats snails and frogs, a band of grimy cave-dwelling looters, an unhinged woman whose botched suicide attempts are comic highlights and an amazing musical sequence featuring a cello, creaky bed springs, machinery, drills and other noises combining to create a symphony of sounds.

The oppressive atmosphere and murky brown color schemes could have easily turned this into a dreary disaster, but the directors keep it offbeat, surprising and clever throughout, and don't miss their chance to throw in some inventive black comedy.
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8/10
The cornerstone of originality
Dockelektro23 July 2002
Clever ideas and good notion of filmmaking are at the core of this movie, whose storyline is the smallest asset. But you won't really care when you see it, because even though the story isn't really elaborate, what you have here is one of the most original movies you'll ever get your eyes on. The setting is perfect, with no historic or geographic references, only an estranged building, which doesn't have a single straight normal tenant. The result is a magnificent work of actors, cinematography and set dressing, that makes the most of visual resources for a movie. The directors Jeunet & Caro show their true potential in this movie that will keep you glued with its naive-like comedy style, and its unique set of characters, which could generate a separate movie about each and every one of them. Magnificent, and truly original.
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10/10
Love for detail shows at every turn
mhi14 September 2000
Jeunet & Caro have created a masterpiece. While certainly this film will not be everyone's cup of tea, I cannot recall anyone I know seeing it and not being delighted. No other movie I've seen so far could top this one for its combination of wittiness, dark humor, love for detail and collection of regular people holding a mirror up to each and everyone of us, showing us how strange we really are.

Indeed this movie will not be constrained by a classification as romance, comedy or science fiction or horror. It is much more than the sum of these - it is a work of art and the painstaking work and love for detail which Jeunet & Caro have put into it show everywhere you look.

This movie is definitely off-beat and I definitely love it!
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9/10
A real treat on every level.
symonm5 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
As far as style goes, this is almost without parallel. Jeunet's own 'Amelie' has moments of very similar style shots and humour and Gilliam's 'Brazil' has some of the zanyness and other world quality of it but other than that, it's more or less on it's own as an example of off-beat hard to pigeonhole non mainstream film.

It's a comedy, a dark(ish) post apocalyptic drama, an art house movie, a love story. It touches on horror at times and seems to tick so many boxes, yet doesn't sit in any one of them. Few films manage that so well.

The lighting is inventive and the sets are incredible. Even the subtle change of colour tone at the end, perhaps suggesting that everything will be alright now, cleverly plays on the subconscious and beautifully lightens the whole mood of the film at it's close.

The wonderfully comic timed spring mattress duet that Louison and Mme Plusse share and Aurore's tragically pathetic attempts to kill herself which only succeed when she doesn't want to do it anymore are shining moments in the comedy of Delicatessen.

The militant vegetarians who attempt the rescue and the old self sufficient man living in a flooded apartment with frogs and snails growing wild, providing him with a ready source of food are just part of the absurdity and yet wonder of a film that delights and amazes in equal measures.

Truly a great film and to paraphrase a review of The Wire (TV's greatest ever series), I would seriously suggest that "you either love it or you haven't seen it yet"
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10/10
A hilarious escape into French Surrealism
david-sarkies23 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is a French movie by the director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and somebody else. Jeunet recently did Alien Resurrection, but that movie is nothing like this one. Delicatessen appears to be a rather low-budget movie. It has no great special effects or dazzling cinematography, but it is brilliant none-the-less.

Delicatessen is about an apartment block in a post-apocalyptic Earth. At the bottom of this apartment block is a delicatessen where the butcher sells human meat, and he gets this meat from the people that live in the building. Then a nice man named Louisan comes to the apartment for a job and falls in love with the butcher's daughter Julie. The problem is that Louisan is the next person on the list to be cut up and sold.

This movie comes under the classification of foreign movie. There is nothing deep and insightful in it, other than the barbarity of man. That is, in a time where there is no food, humanity will resort to cannibalism to survive. What makes this movie unique though is the characters. The French seem to excel in making brilliant characters. Where the Americans will put serious characters in silly situations, the French put silly characters in serious situations. My favourite is when the trogs kidnapped the wrong woman and then have an argument as to whether she is male or not. Then they realise she is not male so run off leaving her tied up. One then comes back, unties her, kisses her and says "that's in case I don't come back," Okay, you might not think its that funny, but the movie is. American movies tend to have the problem of having the first ten minutes hilarious and then the rest of it is ordinary. The French movies start rather ordinary and the comedy tends to last. It usually is because the characters are just so well done, and they remain in character right through.

Delicatessen is just great if you want to see a decent comedy. It is French, and it is much better than a lot of American movies I have seen.
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Only the French could have pulled this off
csm2318 May 2002
`The French,' said James Russell Lowell, `are the most wonderful creatures for talking wisely and acting foolishly that I ever saw.' And good old Henry Adams once said that what he disliked most about the French was their mind, their way of thinking. Why? Because, he said, the French were not serious.

France is not serious. It's an insult; and, it's a compliment. Once their proclivity for playing `Sidewalk Socrates' is understood, one can begin to enjoy them. Henry Adams loved Paris when he got past the surface: `France was not serious, and he [Adams] was not serious in going there.'

I say this by way of introduction to the French movie Delicatessen because, frankly, most French movies really bite. They have that bottom of the birdcage quality, which comes from trying too hard to be deep and philosophical, coming off as ineffably silly instead.

Delicatessen avoids all of that because it doesn't try to be serious. There's nothing pretentious about it. But it could be. It's an outrageously funny black comedy. Only the French, with the penchant for speaking wisely, and acting foolishly, could have pulled this off. It's almost a satirical caricature of French society as a whole.

Set in an apartment complex with a ground floor delicatessen, drifters check in, but don't check out – that is, until a former circus clown shows up. The owner's daughter and the erstwhile circus performer fall in love, throwing her father's brutally perfected supply `system' (fresh meat) all out of whack. The `process,' it seems, cannot tolerate exceptions to the rule, especially not such impractical sentiments as love.

Delicatessen has some outrageously comical setups. And best of all, the inhabitants are all laughable, each in their own way, from the murderous landlord, to his delicate little daughter named Julie. I won't spoil the fun for you by telling you any more. I urge you to find out for yourself.
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8/10
very dark but gloriously absurd
toast-1515 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Almost from the start, with the closeups of fat faces in very strange expressions, I sensed that I had seen the style elsewhere. Then I realized that this movie reminded me of Amelie. Sure enough, it is the same director although this was made about a decade earlier. Amelie is one of my favorite movies; not just for the story but also for the unique imagery. This movie shares that unique visual style but in a more grotesque fashion. Faces are shown in closeup that border on nightmarish. Colors and atmosphere meld to form a bleak, murky, misty and dreary filmscape. It is at once charming and horrifying. One of my favorite scenes is when Louison (Dominique Pinon) is blowing bubbles in the hallway. The two mischievous boys (or "young rascals" played by Boban Janevski and Mikael Todde) are immediately entranced and Louison is spared from any future harassment from them. Indeed, at one point they save his life with their mischief on others. Another of my favorite scenes is when Louison and Juliet (Marie-Loure Dougnat) are playing a duet, she on the cello, he on the saw(?!). Together with the music it was a magic moment. In fact, whenever Louison is shown clowning around, the music is soft and whimsical. Another wonderful moment is when Louison and the Butcher's lover (Karin Viard) are unintentionally playing a song from squeaky mattress springs. In another scene, she and Louison are dancing in his apartment. It looks well enough until you notice that Louison has 3 legs giving new meaning to having 2 left feet. These delightful moments are a stark contrast to the rest of the film. I guess I should expound on what the movie is about.

Louison is an out of work clown whose partner has been eaten. He tries to get a job as a handyman for a butcher (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) who is also a tenement owner. The butcher sizes him up and is not sure he will do. He thinks Louison is a bit too scrawny. However, Louison's luggage is all over the street so he gets the job just to clear the way. It would have been better had he not because in an earlier scene, you see someone hiding in a trash can and then getting butchered as the screen goes black. That someone was the last handyman. This movie is set in a post apocalyptic future where food is scarce and indeed, grain has become currency. The world has become divided between those that live underground and still use grain as food instead of currency and those that hoard grain and eat... well, anything else they can get their hands on except grain. I don't think I've ever seen a blacker comedy than this but if you enjoyed Amelie, I think you will also like this movie.
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7/10
A really good yet strange french film
SeptumSin11 September 2008
Not since "The City of Lost Children" have I been so curious about a film.

This film takes place in the after a war of some sort leaving the world in shambles. A traveling man ends up taking work at a rather shady Delicatessen doing odd jobs. The movie then goes to apartment life examining the different traits of the tenants. Well our traveling man ends up going across the wrong path attempting to hook up with the Butcher's daughter...and so the life of danger begins.

Well this movie is much like "The city of lost children" in that the background is so interesting that it tends to take from most of the film...yet the characters also hold that interest. The biggest issue I have from the film is that the characters and background tend to outshine the story itself. Otherwise I can say that this is a truly wonderful film that I'd love to watch a second time. Be wary though the language is french only.
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7/10
A fiendish delight
LCShackley23 June 2007
Being a big fan of Jeunet's more recent films, I was happy to find this one on cable last week. I found myself chuckling through the whole thing; not just at the jokes, but at the painstaking way Jeunet and Caro plant plot, scenic, and sound details that later play important parts in the film. (They even took time for things like designing and filming one of the cleverest opening credit sequences I've seen.) Jeunet's films are a feast of color and sound, where almost every character is memorable in his/her own way.

The plot is simple, but why complain? The directors have created an entire world for us to enjoy, filled with quirky people (the suicide woman, the guys who make animal-noisemakers...for whom?), weird set design (there must be a plumbing fetishist on the crew), and painstakingly-created set pieces (the flood, the fight on the roof, the squeaky bed). Relax and let your eyes and ears be dazzled by this offbeat comic romance.
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10/10
Excellent movie!
Borislav Dopudja15 October 2006
Wow! I was really shocked when I have seen this movie.

Film is made with Sepia technique, but I didn't realized that it will be so "experimental". Everything in this movie is so fresh, and unpredictable, and new, and fantastic, and there is even a beautiful love story incorporated! :) Delicatessen differs so much from today's Hollywood movies, which all are filmed in similar fashion. I have picked this one from one of the "Best off" SF list, and I am glad I have watched it. I don't have much time to spend, and I tend to preselect movie on which one I will spend two hours of my time.

European movies are so interesting and rich in comparison with US films, and I don't get how is possible that people still watch low quality stuff, when there are masterworks like this one.
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10/10
A great oddity
MrVibrating8 June 2006
This visually impressive and imaginative movie is probably Jeunet's best. Here he and his usual team create what they do best, namely weirdness. Take Amelie, remove everything that people label "so French" and turn it inside out. That's the feeling of Delicatessen.

The plot is goofy but works very well in the movie and has so many little twists and turns it never lets go of your attention. The quirky(for lack of a better word) characters and the great dark humour is not for everyone, but if you can appreciate it then you won't be disappointed.

The acting is good, and the various weirdos in the apartments are very convincing. A personal favourite was a guy who grows frogs and snails in his apartment. His insane look was a treat.

If you really liked Amelie then you might also like this. That being said, they are very different while maintaining the same basic mood. Do yourself a favour, delve in the mind of Jeunet and check out this dark and twisted comedy for those with good taste...
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Jeunet and Caro paint a dark world of hilarity
Ford-kp9 March 2006
Envision a post-apocalyptic world where all but a few sunbeams are blocked out by thick clouds. Most animals and plants have either perished or were claimed by the upper part of the food chain. All currencies have lost their value; after all, you'd spoil you stomach eating them. Instead, the status of money has been replaced by small sacks of corn. Meanwhile, the poor are starving.

In a French suburb, a butcher (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) has made a merit of the people's necessity. Zealously he accumulates hoards of treasures by providing his tenants with meat. Human meat, that is. Under the pretence of offering a janitor's job, he slyly lures strangers into his house until finally turning them into profitable delicatessen. His next victim is already under way, Louison (Dominique Pinon), a former circus performer, arrives shortly after his predecessor has ultimately "moved out". Little does he know of the neighbours' cannibalistic intentions and his grave danger! Luckily, he forms a tender friendship with Julie (Marie-Laure Dougnac), the murderous butcher's rebellious (vegetarian) daughter. When she is trying to save good-hearted Louison's life matters get out of hand and, not unexpectedly, resort to total chaos.

Sounds gloomy, doesn't it? But "Delicatessen" is neither a horrific dystopia nor a social experiment. In fact Marc Caro has created a dark futuristic environment for portraying tremendously comic characters surrounded by the most amusing of oddities. In one scene a tenant tries to pay his debts by offering the landlord a rat-attracting whistle and gets gruffly refused because the bothersome rodents are already extinct. The droll idea itself that an immensely survivable species such as rats (whose uncontrollable numbers could not even be reduced by the most drastic of measures) has been eradicated by sheer human appetite put a grin on my face. There are dozens of similar hilarities of unmatched creativity, both big and small, at which I couldn't help but smile at.

The film is filled to the brim with originality and black-humoured knowingness about life and (what else?) love. Jean-Pierre Jeunet adds his touch with quirky cinematography, setting a surrealistic mood which is charmingly emphasized by a fitting score. Being a comedy, "Delicatessen" provides little of philosophical value and does hardly preach on the deficiencies of human nature. Only sympathetic Louison offers an optimistic theory, something like: "There are no bad people… just bad circumstances. Or they just don't know what they are doing."

Of course they know perfectly well. Hence all the fun.
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Mind-blowing, inventive comedy
pooch-825 February 1999
Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro crafted a near-perfect film in Delicatessen, an almost indescribably unique French comedy concerning cannibalism, troglodytes, a circus clown, myopia, suicide, and sex -- and it's all set following some kind of apocalyptic catastrophe. An extraordinary group of actors (with faces worthy of Fellini) play the desperate residents of an apartment where one's next meal could literally be the neighbor from down the hall. The elastic-featured Dominique Pinon, as the clown turned handyman, is a joy to watch. Delicatessen is packed with Rube Goldberg-style set-pieces (I especially love the fixing of the bed spring as well as the rooftop battle during the television broadcast) that leave you breathless.
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10/10
Stunning!
The One20 February 1999
I watched this movie on dirty heads, so the picture was continually jumping. This disappointed the people I was watching it with, so they left. This did not stop me, however, from watching and, in turn, loving this beatiful piece of cinematic masterpiece. I am a huge fan of any movie (or thing) that is off-centre, and not-quite-right. "Delicatessen" fits this perfectly with its distorted camera angles and equally distorted characters. Jeunet and Caro have made one of the best movies ever!
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Connections
tedg14 January 2010
Most commentors on this marvel at the imagination, the adventuresome cinematography and the mix of black and humor. I found these amusing, but hardly interesting.

What was interesting was how many ways the film explored human connection. Usually you get two: love (or some surrogate) and folded insight, connecting the movie to the viewer.

Here you have:

— eating one another and with each other — love of course, love in the romantic sense — sex (well, this is common too, but not usually divorced from love) — performing together (two ways) — conspiring together

You have connections themselves by radio, TeeVee, performing, pipes and chutes in the building (about which much is made), and a repeated set of Rube Goldberg suicide mechanisms. String, yarn, boomerang knife. Postal packages. None of these make sense unless you believe they were put there to make sense.

It is as if they decided first to make a film about connection, and then to place it in a threatening future, allowing filming tricks.

I'm glad this guy went on to make at least one film after this that found coherence. Maybe we have to sit through some number of these sometimes to get a good film. God knows that Terry Gilliam has punished before he rewards.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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6/10
This Is One Weird Movie!
passscribe9 May 2011
I usually don't mind weird French films because they're often engrossing and unique. This certainly was different but I was ready to fast-forward it at one point because I was losing interest; a bit slow-moving, especially at the beginning, but it gained momentum along with its weirdness. It supposedly takes place in a post-apocalyptic world but, judging by the set and props, looks like the 1960s. There were many different sub-plots going on at the same time, most of which worked well together. I don't think the underground force segment fit well with the rest of the story. For the most part, I thought the characters were well-developed and memorable. Fine performances all around (especially Dominique Pinon) but I was expecting much more from Jean Pierre Jeunet (who directed Amélie).
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6/10
Delicatessen.....
Sophie Guy11 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
After recently watching this movie in a film studies lesson at school was left with an unsettled opinion. The film itself is undoubtedly outstanding in its artistic individuality, with Jeunet and Caro creating a masterpiece which is praised by film critics and viewers alike.

Throughout the film the lavish use of colour and various shot types are what make the film such a wonder to watch. Jeunet uses alternative camera angles to create a somewhat obscure feeling whilst watching. The use of angles is especially what makes us feel like we are not only watching a movie but that we are becoming part of Jeunet and Caro's wondrous creation.

The humour is somewhat bizarre but is still presented to us in a way which can be appreciated audiences; especially with Aurores various attempts at suicide and the distinguishing ways in which characters are filmed and presented. The overall plot itself contains some form of humour; boy meets girl and girl's father tries to use him for meat, this all being set in an apocalyptic future. To me that does not sound like a typical romantic comedy, giving the film an element of (as I have already stated) individuality but it also makes it quite charming.

The overall film itself is very unconventional, especially with all the cinematic stylistic techniques and the individual touches added by the directors. However although I am able to appreciate this film in all its cinematic beauty I still find that I am unable to say that I am greatly fond of it. Yes, I think that it is a work of art by Jeunet and Caro and Yes, I think that it's highly appealing to some but I do not find the overall idea of the film that interesting. I would watch it again to be left in awe of the way it was made, but I don't think I would watch it as a form of entertainment. It is almost as if I appreciate this film for its artistic importance, much like a Shakespeare play or a Monet painting, rather than appreciate the film for actually being a film.
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