Thursday, 22 March 2012


Delicatessen quirky and unusual dark comedy set in post-apocalyptic France in which grain is the currency and people do anything they can to survive. Ex-circus performer Luison responds to an ad in the newspaper for a maintenance man in an apartment block with a butchers on the ground floor. It becomes apparent that the Butcher uses the ad to attract people to the apartment who he then kills and makes into meat which is split between the other tenants in the building. Julie, the Butcher’s daughter becomes infatuated with Luison and goes in search of underground militant vegetarians who attempt to bring the Butcher down and steal his hoards of grain, thus saving Luison from his fate.

Just going by that brief plot summary above it should be clear that this film is bonkers. The film is a deliberate homage to Terry Gilliam and this is very obvious. The way the film is shot, the dystopian nature, even the costume are all reminders of Gilliam’s work. The camera pulls in to close ups of peoples anguished and twisted faces and the whole film is shot in various shades of brown, there are few other colours. The mise en scene is so Gilliam that had the film been in English you’d be hard pushed to believe it wasn’t one of his films. It contains all of his trademarks. The visual comparisons go even further with the vegetarian’s costumes looking remarkably similar to Robert DeNiro’s in Brazil. Basically, if you are a Terry Gilliam fan, you’ll love this.

The film isn’t funny all the way through but contains moments of genius. One woman’s increasingly elaborate attempts to kill herself are a recurring joy. In one scene she stands on a chair with a noose around her neck and a gun pointed at her head which is attached to a string on the door so that when her husband opens the door, the gun will go off and the chair pulled from under her. In addition, the oven door is open with the gas on and she has a bottle full of pills at the ready. Despite all of this, the suicide attempt goes wrong and it is very funny to watch. The film is scattered with moments like this, but only lightly scattered. The real joy of the film is the cinematographic style which is used which is dark and monochromatic but visually appealing.

Due to the lack of funny moments and confusing story the film is inevitably a bit dull in places but each of these moments is quickly erased by an action set piece or subtle bit of humour. The film on the whole is a success and is worth watching for its style if nothing else.


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