Reviewed by GREG KING
Directors: David and Stephane Foenkinos
Stars: Audrey Tatou, Francois Damiens, Bruno Todeschini, Pio Marmai.
Audrey Tatou has a wonderfully gamin-like quality and coquettish presence that has charmed audiences in films like the delightful Amelie and Priceless. But there is something a little darker about her latest film, Delicacy, a slight, bittersweet and offbeat tale about an odd couple romance.
The film is based on the 2009 novel La Delicatesse, written by director David Foenkinos, who has adapted the book for the screen with his brother and co-director Stephane, a former casting director. The book was a huge best seller in France, but it seems rather slight and inconsequential, and it is hard to figure out its appeal.
Tatou plays Nathalie, who is happily married to the hunky Francois (Pio Marmai). But when a tragic accident leaves her a widow, her life is changed. Nathalie immerses herself in her work to hide her pain and loneliness. She also fends off the advances of her creepy boss Charles (Bruno Todeschini). But one day she impulsively kisses her Scandinavian coworker Markus (Francois Damiens, from Heartbreakers, etc). He becomes besotted with her, but he believes that he is unworthy of her.
Nonetheless an unlikely romance blossoms between this mismatched pair. Nathalie slowly emerges from her self-imposed emotional exile. There is some awkward comedy in the scene when Nathalie first introduces Markus to her family, who are unimpressed with the older, balding and socially awkward Swede.
This odd couple romance unfolds in a leisurely and unhurried fashion and it rings with a touch of honesty. Delicacy is the first feature film for the Foenkinos brothers, who direct the material with a light and whimsical touch.
Tatou’s performance is full of a wonderful combination of vulnerability, hurt, and passion, and she effectively conveys the sadness and hurt that her character is suffering from. She has a superb affinity for this sort of material, although she seems to be typecast. Damiens is awkwardly endearing and brings a self-deprecating quality to his performance. Tatou and Damiens develop a prickly chemistry that catches the audience off guard.
The film is also buoyed by the jaunty soundtrack from Emilie Simon. Delicacy is a slight but largely uninspired, inconsequential and typically Gallic romantic comedy about love lost and found, grief, and moving on that will find an appreciative audience.