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Delicatessen
France 1991
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet / Marc Caro
Running time 96 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars


Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro come from a background in TV commercials and music videos and it shows in this their debut feature, Although evidently indebted to the dystopian mood and retro style of Terry Gilliam's masterpiece Brazil (1985), Delicatessen lacks that film's narrative breadth, being much more a black comedy based on series of neatly-connected set pieces.

Dominique Pinon, who was memorable as the knife-throwing assassin in Diva, is particularly good in the central role of Louison, an ex-circus clown who answers an ad for work as a handyman for Clapet (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) a butcher who offers him room and board in his rooming-house. The butcher's clumsy and near-sighted daughter, Julie (Marie-Laure Dougnac), falls in love with him but Clapet has him sized up as an upcoming meat tray for his cannibalistic clientele. The hi-jinx are set against some vaguely post-apocalyptic setting in which Clapet and his collaborators parallel the Nazis and Vichy French and some troglydytic vegetarians function as WWII resistance fighters. This aspect is never developed in any really meaningful way, Jeunet and Caro instead focussing on the gags which are conceptually and visually inventive, full of brio and often funny in a Grand Guignol way.

Jeunet and Caro would subsequently collaborate on similarly styled films such as City Of Lost Children but this remains their finest hour.

 

 

 

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