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31 March 2012

Delicatessen (1991)

I’ll start this review with an apology: I haven’t watched any films for a long, long time, and as a result I've had no reviews to post. I haven’t even been doing any reading. It’s been all art and playing music. It could be worse I guess!

I’m still struggling for time, but here’s a quick review for you...

Clapet and his cleaver!
Delicatessen , Miramax 1991

Earlier this week I dusted off a DVD I bought a good six months ago called Delicatessen. I’m surprised to learn just now that it was made in 1991; wow, it felt a whole lot more modern than that. Granted it is a sort of period piece that seems to be set in the 50s or 60s in an alternative future, but for me this film felt current. I bought it because I read somewhere that it was post-apocalyptic and that it might even have zombies. You know that I’m a sucker for all that sort of stuff! It doesn’t have zombies...

No zombies... but plenty of mad people!
Delicatessen , Miramax 1991

I don’t really know much of the history of the world that Delicatessen is set in. I do know that civilization has been thrown into turmoil as food supplies are dwindling. I’m not sure what’s happened, but buildings are in tatters and the remaining survivors are eking out impoverished miserable lives. And everything revolves around food. It’s the new money. Actually, that’s all you need to know.

The film centres on a block of flats being run by a bullying Butcher. It soon becomes apparent that life for the poor residents revolves around the Butcher’s shop and his rationed meat. But where is he getting his meat from? Everyone seems to know and it isn’t long before we do to.

Cello with Saw accompaniment! Beautiful!
Delicatessen , Miramax 1991

Enter Louison (played by Dominique Pinon), a clown with a past who takes up residency as the new odd-job man. He takes to his new job with enthusiasm and is soon charming the Butcher’s daughter Julie (played by Marie-Laure Dougnac). I loved the chemistry between these two. Both are charismatic and endearing and before you know it the spark of romance has been ignited, much to the annoyance of the Butcher Clapet (played by Jean-Claude Dreyfus). Clapet is quite literally mad. It then becomes a sort of cat and mouse chase as Louison desperately attempts to escape Clapet’s cleaver!

A moment Fred Astaire would have been proud of...
Hawaiian Bed Dancing!
Delicatessen , Miramax 1991

There are some great moments in here. I loved the whole scene where the butcher is fooling around with his girlfriend (the fearsome Mademoiselle Plusse played by Karin Viard). As the two get down to business, squeaking bedsprings act like a heartbeat reverberating throughout the apartment block. It reminded me of how intertwined the residents’ lives are. Later the handyman Louison is called in to fix the squeak and we have my favourite scene in the whole film where Mademoiselle Plusse and Louison do a sort of bed-bouncing dance to the 1940 classic “Dreams of Old Hawaii” (Lani McIntire, Joe White & Larry Stock) which just happens to be playing on the TV at the time. It really is a beautiful scene, perfectly choreographed. I want to do a version of this song... and to bounce-dance on the bed with Mademoiselle Plusse... ahem!

Playing to the stereotypes...
I thought only tourists ate snails?
Delicatessen , Miramax 1991

Delicatessen is French with subtitles, but don’t let that put you off. I loved the whole quirky story. The camerawork is great. The acting is fantastic. It’s beautifully put together. A gem!

One last thing before I close off... I can’t quite put my finger on it but Louison is a whiteface clown by trade and I know that there are different types of whiteface that are meant to play different roles in the circus. I’m sure if I was clever enough and dug deep enough, that there may be something behind this... hmmm... Watch it yourself and let me know...

On the Triple-B I’m going to purchase a 6-bladed ‘Australian’. This one can do the full 360! Watch your heads people!




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