Delicacy DVD Review

Everyone’s favourite French actress limbers up for another of those romantic comedies Audrey Tautou’s so synonymous with in director David Foenkinos’ Delicacy.

Nathalie is young, beautiful and in love. The man of her dreams picked her up one day at her favourite coffee shop and she’s never come back down to earth since.

Naturally, her friends don’t get the true love she’s found with François, nor how being with him magically makes the week feel shorter.

But then time always flies when you’re in the company of someone you love.

So far, so predictably rom-com.

Until François, feeling the need to keep his award winning calves in shape, goes for a run one day and is involved in a car accident.

With her beau’s life and their love prematurely cut short, Nathalie avoids dealing with this loss by throwing herself into her work.

Three years pass and, despite her manager’s overzealous amorous attentions, Nathalie still hasn’t moved on from losing François.

So when the non-descript Markus transfers to her office, no one’s more surprised than Nathalie herself when she kisses her new employee before they’ve even been properly introduced.

With his receding hairline, clumsy demeanour and predilection for beige cardigans, Nathalie’s attraction to her new Swedish colleague is just as shocking to everyone who finds out.

Even Markus himself.

But Nathalie recognises there’s more to her new suitor than meets the eye.

Adapted for the big screen from his own novel and co-directed with his brother Stéphane, David Foenkinos’ Delicacy is a slightly leftfield take on the staid romantic comedy genre.

Starting off predictably enough with a sweet but vaguely boring romantic premise between Nathalie and François, the narrative soon veers away from type and turns into something altogether more interesting with the introduction of a most unlikely leading man in the shape of Markus, played by François Damiens.

Broad, ungainly and with a bulk seemingly too cumbersome to move with any real grace, Markus is the polar opposite to the miniscule Nathalie played by Tautou, who wears her character’s innocence and charm on her light and lovely shoulders.

They make an interesting looking couple, that’s for sure, yet for all their outward differences you understand why they connect with each other.

Nathalie’s superficial beauty means men tend to see just one thing with her, but Markus isn’t like these other guys.

He can see the beyond her looks, as Tautou’s character can see the kind, gentle and funny soul beneath the disguise of a Swedish big friendly giant.

And despite a number of offers from seemingly more suitable romantic suitors, Markus is the only one who’s able to make Nathalie forget about her past.

As is de rigueur for any French film post Amelie, there are moments of surreal fantasy and farce; none more so than Markus’ walk home after Nathalie unexpectedly kisses him, as beautiful women queue up to say salut to our unlikely Don Juan.

The ending feels a little overlong as Nathalie’s character struggles to tie up the loose ends of her past, but Foenkinos’ Delicacy is a fun and entertaining romantic comedy; proffering a Gallic shrug to the tired conventions of this genre and serving up something a little different instead.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

August 2012