Starring: Marie-Laure Dougnac, Dominique Pinon, Pascal Benezech
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro
Running Time: 99 mins
Delicatessen is a French film about a dystopian future society, where a landlord cunningly lures unsuspecting residents to his butchery for ‘work’, but he in fact murders them for cheap meat to sell to his tenants, until one man arrives and changes everything.
This film is totally bleak. Of all the future dystopian films I’ve seen, I can say quite confidently that this is the most depressing and disturbing. But, the saving grace of it from being totally depressing is that it’s a black comedy, which means it’s not only intriguing, but also hugely entertaining.
Made by the same director of Amélie, it’s got a real quirk to it. In fact, it seems as if that’s a real hallmark of French cinema in general, a bit of quirkiness and insanity to add to whatever situation, which really helps the films to be a lot more enjoyable than you would think.
And this film is a perfect example. Initially, the whole premise seems completely petrifying, and makes you think that this could be some sort of a horror, and while there are various terrifying sequences throughout this, the hyperbolic acting and dialogue take away some of that fear, and add to the comedic side of it all.
Meanwhile, the story as a whole is also very well written. It’s a fast-paced, exciting and often scary plot, but with a lot zaniness at the same time, so it’s not something that should be taken too seriously, nor should it be taken too lightly, but it’s definitely easy to enjoy.
However, the best part of this film is the brilliant cinematography. Now, there is a sort of Wes Anderson-ish quality to it all (however this was made before Anderson’s first film), with a lot of flat, straight-on shots and bright colours to mirror varying characters amidst this bleak society.
But the majority is very bleak and dark cinematography, mostly quite grungy and disturbing to see on-screen, while a lot of the camera shots are done at a weird angle, similar to The Ipcress File, and that, while feeling totally crazy like this whole film, adds quite significantly to the tension that does erupt at certain parts throughout.
Overall, then, this gets an 8.1, because while it is petrifying, exciting and tense, it’s mad and quirky enough to be hilarious at the same time, and that makes for a hugely entertaining watch.