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!
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.
My reviews of foreign films will probably focus on slightly different aspects of cinema in comparison to my reviews of Hollywood films. Please refer to my post on French cinema vs. Hollywood (coming soon!) for more details on why European Cinema and Hollywood are so different. French films aren’t for everyone and sometimes I find them a little difficult to follow so I can’t really say whether or not the average person would enjoy this movie. 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.
Has anyone got any good French films to recommend? I’m looking to do French at university and I need to get stuck into French culture! Leave a comment below!