"A film that exemplifies everything that is appealing about French cinema..."
After the immense worldwide success of Amelie in 2001, there was always the fear that Audrey Tautou would be typecast and therefore limited to whimsical French romantic-comedies, and although that has been the case somewhat, Delicacy proves that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, in what is an endearing and amiable production in which Tautou shines.
She plays Nathalie, a self-assured and attractive woman, happily married to the love of her life; the charming François (Pio Marmai). However, Nathalie's near-perfect existence is turned completely upside down as François is innocently killed in a car accident. The widow, although desperate to move on with her life, struggles to do so, spurning advances from her flirtatious boss, as three difficult years pass by.
Nathalie, still unconvinced about meeting somebody new, soon tests her initial inclination, as she starts dating her fellow co-worker Markus (François Damiens). The Swede, clumsy and ungainly, is also quite odd looking, as the pair's potential relationship is questioned by those around them, and Nathalie and Markus must decide if they have a future together, dependant on whether Nathalie is able to overcome her loyalty to her former husband, whilst Markus must learn to shrug off those doubting his credentials in becoming Nathalie's new partner.
Based on the eponymous novel by David Foenkinos, the writer has teamed up with his brother Stéphane, to create a film that exemplifies everything that is appealing about French cinema, successfully combining charm and wit, playing on the Parisian romanticism in film with a tongue-in-cheek approach. What with this and The Artist both released within a mere matter of months, it proves that the French possess the talent in presenting an earnest and sincere relationship between two people more so than any other nation.
Delicacy is the epitome of a bittersweet comedy, able to make the audience laugh and cry almost instantaneously and with little gaps between the two. The filmmakers have got the sentimentality spot-on, as although being upsetting when François is killed, it's understated and subtle. You don't see the accident itself, but instead learn of what has happened through Nathalie's response. Such sorrow is soon counteracted by the introduction of Markus, adding a joviality to proceedings, as the film suddenly becomes quite comedic, although underlying poignancy remains, as the relationship between Nathalie and Markus is so touching. Whilst she seemed to have her Prince Charming in François, she now just wants to be happy, and disregards Markus' appearance for this very reason.
It's the relationship between the leading protagonists which sets Delicacy apart from the majority of contemporary rom-coms, as you are desperate to see them get together. It is a fault in so many films of a similar ilk, where you simply don't care. Yet in this film you really feel for her character, and for his too, which is what allows for such amiability, and the sincere rooting for their relationship. Delicacy also takes on an almost Beauty and the Beast premise, taking quite a grave look into prejudice, as even Nathalie's best friend struggles to accept Markus.
But to fully appreciate their potential relationship, much is reliant on the performances, and both are fantastic, particularly Tautou, who possesses such charm, playing the widowed wife with sincerity, portraying a real sense of vulnerability yet with the strength to succeed and overcome the tragedy. Tautou can certainly join the growing list of actresses, alongside Elizabeth Olsen and Charlize Theron, that can claim themselves to be very unfortunate to have missed out on an Oscar nomination, in fact Delicacy can too boast such misfortune. Damiens is also terrific, bringing a slap-stick demeanour to the feature, with great comic timing and wonderful physical comedy, getting the awkwardness of Markus spot on.
Delicacy is simply delightful, although I do have a feeling that my review may be somewhat less critical than others, but then again I am a pathetic romanticist and this film is right up my street. Or perhaps it's just the fact Tautou gets with Damiens that is gratifying, as it gives all of us blokes an incredible degree of hope.