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Delicatessen (Special Edition)
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Delicatessen (Special Edition)
The title credit for Delicatessen reads "Presented by Terry Gilliam," and it's easy to understand why the director of Brazil was so supportive of this outrageously black French comedy from 1991. Like Gilliam, French codirectors Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro have wildly inventive imaginations that gravitate to the darker absurdities of human behavior, and their visual extravagance is matched by impressive technical skill. Here, making their feature debut, Jeunet and Caro present a postapocalyptic scenario set entirely in a dank and gloomy building where the landlord operates a delicatessen on the ground floor. But this is an altogether meatless world, so the butcher-landlord keeps his customers happy by chopping unsuspecting victims into cutlets, and he's sharpening his knife for a new tenant (French comic actor Dominque Pinon) who's got the hots for the butcher's nearsighted daughter! Delicatessen is a feast (if you will) of hilarious vignettes, slapstick gags, and sweetly eccentric characters, including a man in a swampy room full of frogs, a woman doggedly determined to commit suicide (she never gets its right), and a pair of brothers who make toy sound boxes that "moo" like cows. It doesn't amount to much as a story, but that hardly matters; this is the kind of comedy that springs from a unique wellspring of imagination and inspiration, and it's handled with such visual virtuosity that you can't help but be mesmerized. There's some priceless comedy happening here, some of which is so inventive that you may feel the urge to stand up and cheer. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
It's the postapocalyptic future, where food is so scarce that grain is used as money, and meat is completely gone. The setting is an apartment building run by a local butcher (Jean-Claude Dreyfus), who feeds his tenants in an unusual way: he hires assistants, then turns them into tomorrow's din-din. His newest assistant is the gentle vegetarian ex-clown Louison (Dominic Pinon).
But the butcher's plans get thrown for a loop when his cello-playing daughter Julie (Marie-Laure Dougnac) falls for Stanley and (unsurprisingly) wants to save her love from a fate worse than entrees. So she contacts the vegetarian resistance, the Troglodytes, and tricks them into invading her father's house, on the night when he plans to slaughter Louison.
Okay, let's get this straight: cannibalism is not funny. But comedies about cannibalism CAN be very funny, if done well. And "Delicatessen" manages to be a funny comedy in the tradition of Terry Gilliam, with the warped direction, surreal direction and strange settings. What was later precious in "Amelie" is weirdly ominous here... not that that's a bad thing.
It's also a challenge to create such a dark, bleak setting and somehow inject offbeat comedy into it. For example, one sex scene is juxtaposed against various activities (carpet beating, cello playing) -- all in the same rhythm. It's a moment of pure comic skill.Read more ›
I had started watching it expecting a "weird French film", and that was indeed what I got at first. I couldn't believe the atmosphere that the directors had created in this film, though I imagine it might have been somewhat familiar to some Francophones living in the destruction after WW2. The introductory sequence to this film is MASTERFULLY shot, and it raised my expectations quite a bit.
Unfortunately, the same level of energy didn't seem to last when the movie really started. The atmosphere was fantastic, yes, and the inventions that were made in this movie (a MUSICAL SAW?) were totally unique. However, no amount of weird atmosphere can amend a movie if the story and characters aren't up to the job. In fact, it's a lot harder to create good characters & plot for a movie like this, because the movie has to make sense within its own unique world and yet make us the viewers feel like something REAL is at stake.
For a while, it seemed like Delicatessen was only as deep as its cover; scenes whose only purpose seemed to be to show the inventions of the movie dragged on too long, and the various conversations that the tenants of the apartment building had (I'm assuming you know the general story here) seemed to have no meaning. The Troglodytes that came in about 1/2-way through also didn't quite seem to fit in.
However, by the end of the movie all was justified. I realized just what an enormous task the movie had done; this is not a story of just the two main characters, but a story of at about a dozen tenants of the apartment building. By the end of the movie, each tenant of the apartment building was portrayed as a unique individual, and each had their own story.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
This movie seems reminiscent of something Johnny Depp might do...but in an Amelie type of movie. it's weird and quirky and entertaining throughout.Published on June 7 2013 by E.G
I heard about this movie when a filmographer who was a contestant on Jeopardy declared that it was his favorite film. I had to check it out and I'm not sorry that I did. Read morePublished on May 29 2011 by Brenda Lucas
In a not so distant future the apocalypse has stricken earth with its full force and famine is driving people to commit macabre acts. Read morePublished on March 31 2004 by Swederunner
...what will the meat addicts do to supply their craving?
...where will all those Moo toys go?
...is Livingston a good monniker for a monkey?
... Read more
i firmly agree with the majority of the other reviewers who loved this film. i first saw it in '93 or '94 on a cable network. it was pretty much my introduction to foreign films. Read morePublished on Dec 29 2003 by T. Martin
A champion in the long line of european flicks orbiting cannibalism. Delicatessen is hilarious, but sometimes a bore, a lovely bore, but a bore. Read morePublished on Sept. 20 2003 by fat_runner
Beautiful cinematography, excellent set design, and wildly vivid characters are just a few of the well planned and beautifully executed details in this comically bizarre film. Read morePublished on Aug. 29 2003 by Thomas Saaristo
Beautiful cinematography and excellent set design are just a few of the well planned and beutifully executed details of this bizarre film. Read morePublished on March 18 2003 by P. Fox