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Monday, July 9, 2012

"Delicacy", drama, comedy & awkward love

Delicacy (La Délicatesse, French original title)

Romantic comedies (rom-coms) might be the most exploited film genre ever (scary kids announcing paranormal activities on a haunted house rank close), so it is hard to find something original or fresh on the overwhelming majority of movies on that vein released over the year. "Delicacy" might not be groundbreaking, but at least has a notable amount of charms and some remarkable freshness in its development.

"Delicacy" could have been a major disaster. It starts with the extra-cute / but cool (a bit annoying really) depiction of Nathalie's, played by the always charming Audrey Tautou, (although she looks extremely thin this time imo) life along her husband. Love, happiness, in that sort of "Amélie"'s vibe, so delightful for many, so irritating for others. But out of the blue, tragedy appears with the death of Nathalie's husband.

In a radical change of scenario, and with little information for the spectator, we see the transformation of Nathalie into a fierce executive director that buries herself (and her desolation) in work. But just when it seems we are moving towards a conventional drama until she's able to "love again" (I know, this last line is worryingly unpromising, right?) there's another drastic turn of events... and comedy makes its "apparition". 

I completely understand the critics or reviewers that claim "Delicacy" suffers from a muddled development in its storytelling. It does. The tone switches might be too much for many, and debuting directors David and Stephane Foenkinos (adapting the former's novel), are on the verge of losing a natural, credible rhythm in their narration of situations (some secondary roles doesn't help either,with their odd behaviour), leaving the viewer with a wonder of where is this story going?. But somehow they manage to emerge from that little sense of chaos.

It might be thanks to their ability of avoiding drama, presenting a very light-hearted film, the lack of pretensions (no moralizing remarks), but foremost, it's a matter of chemistry. While Tautou's is capable of giving credibility to the different states of her emotional turmoil throughout the film without losing her natural "spell", is Markus, played by the unknown (for me at least) actor François Damiens, the "Swedish" (no spoiling), who really steals the show. The directors make use of our pre-conceived notions on what sort of person "fits" the other, and building up on this flesh & bones "beauty and the beast" topic they create an unlikely romance that is quite amusing and rewarding, with several awkward moments that are really funny. When Tautou and Damiens are on screen together, the scenes look genuine. And that makes "Delicacy" a pleasant "ride".

Overall, a film with charms that overcomes its erratic pacing and weak structure with the great, effortless charisma and chemistry of their leading couple. A bit bland and confusing (these unnecessary dramatic scenes near the end), but also quite entertaining and pleasant.
SCORE: 6/10

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