Delicacy, directed by brothers David and Stéphane Foenkinos, and based on David’s novel La delicatesse, is a film that trades in whimsy without getting bogged down in preciousness. The presence of lead actress Audrey Tautou contributes greatly to the film’s charm. She’s a winsome actress, best known for her role in Amelie, who has great comic timing and a face that can convey both sweetness and despair in the blink of an eye. Both are required in this film, a story that begins with heartbreak and ends with the rebuilding of a life.
Tautou plays Natalie, a newly married woman who has just started a professional career and is thinking about having children with her husband. The opening scene of the movie finds her sitting in a café, playing out the scenario in which they first met. After he proposes, their engagement and wedding are shot in a sort of music video montage, the camera circling around the two as a pop song plays. Life seems to be going well for them. Their in-laws are incredibly charming, their Paris apartment is shabbily fashionable, they enjoy afternoon red wine. Then—spoiler alert, be warned—Natalie’s husband is hit by a car and killed during an afternoon jog. Abruptly, suddenly, life has thrown a cruel twist in her direction, and the repercussions are painful and deep. In a poignant, foreshadowing voiceover at the funeral, she asks herself, “What if I fixed this moment? What if I walled myself up with grief?”
Fast-forward to two years later, and Natalie has completely immersed herself in work, barely allowing a moment to feel much of anything for anyone. Her boss, Charles (Todeschini), has his sights set on her and feels that it is time she found romance once again. She isn’t interested in him or anyone else, until, in a daydreaming moment, she plants a kiss on one of her coworkers, a Swedish transplant named Markus. François Damiens, who plays Markus, is a bear of a man, with long arms that hang below his gigantic frame, a balding pate and a scruffy beard—pretty much the polar opposite of Tautou’s petite figure. He is completely taken with Natalie, and the Foenkinos stage a great musical scene that seems inspired by 500 Days of Summer, in which Markus walks down the street and every beautiful woman that passes him is immediately smitten.
As the relationship between Markus and Natalie develops, things seem headed towards the inevitable happy ending, but the Foenkinos smartly keep the film’s resolution ambiguous. Natalie takes refuge from her emotional chaos at her grandmother’s country house. She is joined there by Markus, who, in a fantasy flashback, begins to truly understand her (a clichéd plot device that the filmmakers pull off well). The film ends as it starts, with a voiceover—a satisfying bookend to a highly entertaining and emotional journey.
Director: David Foenkinos, Stéphane Foenkinos
Writers: David Foenkinos
Starring: Audrey Tautou, François Damiens, Bruno Todeschini
Release Date: Mar. 16, 2012