For the most part people who watch Delicatessen will be those looking back into the back catelogue of Amelie director Jeunet. His first work is set in a post-apocalyptic world without meat where the inhabitants of a small appartment block are sustained by the local butcher who chops up new guests and doles them out. This seems to be the plan for newcomer Pinon, but once he falls in love with the butcher's daughter the couple decide a life with an underground organisation of vegetarians would be a more fulfilling lifestyle and plan to leave.
Visually this is a real treat, and the close-ups of characters' expressions as well as the wonderful set of character idiosyncracies that are evoked are all very reminiscent of Amelie. In particular the woman who constantly attempts suicide in overly elaborate situations but always manages to get it wrong somehow is fantastic fun, and the mannered performances from all concerned suit the tone of the piece perfectly. The idea itself is also enjoyably off-kilter, enough so to rightfully earn it a cult audience.
So why only three stars when there's so much that's right with the movie? Well, as it stands Delicatessen is a vastly inventive movie (certainly more than most) and there are a great deal of incidental things to enjoy (a boomerang fighting weapon, a room flooded by frogs and a disastrous first date) that are mostly based on the kind of situation comedy that Jeunet is so good at. However, it's not as accessible as Amelie and whilst it stands as a stunningly original genre piece there's little story thread despite the nicely performed fairytale romance between the leads. Most likely you'll appreciate Delicatessen for its originality but its concept and visuals aside, this just isn't as good as the bowl-you-over spectacular Amelie, although it's definitely worth seeking out for fans of the director or for fans of oddball movie-making.