Admittedly, the only reason why I picked La Délicatesse (Delicacy) was due to the main actress in the movie, Audrey Tautou. Ever since Amélie, I have been quite besotted by her and her performances. It’s good as well that I have forgotten all movie synopses by the time that I watch the movies (I bought the tickets weeks ago), so I can appraise each movie based on my experience alone.
Nathalie Kerr’s (Audrey Tautou) life is thrown into turmoil when her husband, François (Pio Marmaï) had an accident and passed away. In the three years after his death, she throws himself into her work and ignores any advances from her boss. In a moment of weakness and impulsiveness, she kisses a hapless junior staff in her department, a gangly, balding Swedish staff called Markus Lundl (François Damiens). The awkward moment spurs their unlikely relationship – Nathalie, an attractive lady, with Markus, a plain (almost boring) but funny and sincere man.
At first I thought the movie would be somehow related to food, however, I now realise that it refers to the subtlety of feelings and situations. The first scenes made me think that the movie would be a light and airy soufflé – nice and sweet, and nothing else. An airy fairy romantic movie. (By the way, what is it with French movies loving some kind of voice-over narration?) However I realise that La Délicatesse is more like a home-cooked soup – it’s sincere and down-to-earth. It’s hard to dislike this movie after it wears its heart on its sleeve throughout the 108 minutes. Tautou is as elegant and charming as ever, even when she has to portray a lady in mourning. Damiens is also perfectly cast as an awkward geek with a golden heart.
The movie can be a bit uneven at times and the timeframe in the movie is highly elastic. A scene in the park between Nathalie and Sophie (Nathalie’s friend) suddenly spans across three years, without any prior warning or information. The viewers need to deduce it themselves – the same with the earlier scene between François and Nathalie – standing in front of a building holding hands after François proposes – the next thing you know is that they’re already married and that they have finished their honeymoon around the world. The scenes at the beginning of the movie show a lot more playfulness whilst the end of the movie is a lot more tender and introspective. Perhaps the fact that the movie is directed by two brothers: David Foenkinos and Stéphane Foenkinos give us a hint about this unevenness. However, Emilie Simon’s songs and music help to bring the scenes and the story together – there’s a touching moment in the movie when Nathalie’s dancing wildly to Simon’s Franky’s Princess years after François’ death while Sophie watches from afar – her eyes brimming with tears, understanding.
The improbability of the pairing between Nathalie and Markus (“It’s a bit like Liechtenstein going out for a walk with the United States of America”) makes us think about any unlikely couples that we know – with one half being highly attractive, and the other being plain or boring-looking. The movie again shows, that sometimes it is the matter of the heart and the grey cells that make one highly attractive. Markus, despite his geeky attire, is funny, sincere and polite – and knows how to handle Nathalie’s feelings delicately.
That is the factor that wins her over.