What a great film to start on! Having watched a few films with subtitles, I don’t mind going from the bottom to the rest of the screen. So, if you don’t like doing that just yet, then don’t see this film. However, this French film manages to get the storyline [and the jokes] through both script and film itself. I jotted a few notes down as I watched Delicatessen; either moments that really stood out or moments that made me laugh. Just to warn you; don’t watch this movie whilst eating any form of meat. You’ll waste the meat. So! Lets start at the beginning.
Within the first 20-seconds of the film, I thought “oh no, this is going to be really scary” and that I’d have to turn if off but no! This film has a particular style that I haven’t experienced before. It has the buildup which is scary and eerie and fills you with anticipation that you’re about to see someone chopped into pieces but no. Your skin crawls with goose bumps only to have you laugh! Its scary then you get the punch line! Its such a fantastic concept! I, for one, hate horror films [which is why I won’t be reviewing any, SORRY!] but to have the person on the edge of their seats and then fall off them with laughter is just brilliant. I’ve never seen it done before and I feel that it really should be used more often in films.
So. We’re introduced to the butcher [who looks like one of the Sopranos] called Clapet [played by Jean-Claude Dreyfus]. It’s a pretty nerve-racking beginning as its kind of obvious that he doesn’t use those knives in his hands to cut animals. The camera goes through the pipes which play a key role in the whole film. The pipes are the main communication for sending secret messages and for eavesdropping; they can be your best friend but also your enemy. We then see a man wrapping himself in newspaper looking terrified. Newspaper-man gets caught in the dustbins and Clapet throws the knife at the camera which is the point-of-view of newspaper-man. It’s a perfect beginning for this movie as it sets up the ‘style’ of the film perfectly.
The opening credits I loved because of the way the person in the credits was being shown. For example, you can the director of photography’s name on a camera, the costume designer on a label on a shirt and the set designer’s name on rulers. It was, oddly, beautifully shot.
Delicatessen is set in a post-apocalyptic France [in the 1950s]. We get this feeling through the scenery which looks like its been bombed a couple of times and the constant fog that surrounds the outdoor streets. Their currency is food such as lentils and corn which, the tenants in the apartments above the delicatessen, exchange for ‘meat’. We are introduced to most of the tenants in the delicatessen and their relationships with Clapet.
Music plays another role in this movie but it is diegetic music. For those who don’t know, diegetic means that the music is in the scene itself and hasn’t been added on later in production. For example; diegetic sound would be Julie [Clapet’s daughter played by Marie-Laure Dougnac who looks like my friend Ham] playing the cello, non-diegetic would be the instrumental song that’s playing over a conversation in a room that has no source of the song. Get it? If not, Google it! Anyway, it seems that the tenants cooperate through sound. Clapet and the lady tenant in red are having sexy time and the springs are squeaking in perfect time. Julie plays her cello in time with the squeaks, the mother bats the rug in time with the squeaks, and so on. The faster the squeaks go, the faster the tenants play/work. They are all under control of Clapet. it’s a great [and funny] metaphor.
There is one character that always made me laugh. She was the rich man’s wife. She is believed to be schizophrenic and we even hear the voice that is in her head. The wife comes up with all these contraptions that look like the kid from Home Alone would of made. But these contraptions aren’t to stop the bad guys from coming in; they are to kill herself. It sounds horrible but its actually quite funny. Especially as they would of worked if reality hadn’t kicked in. I shall not say how they are ruined as it might ruin it slightly but this film has made attempted suicide look quite funny.
There are two characters who are a little weird. Well, maybe not the characters themselves but their jobs. They make those little toy things that when you flip it over, it makes a cow noise. Its weird and a little relevant but it makes you laugh and that’s all that matters!
The climax is quite funny in a way that, if done wrong, could just look like a poorly made horror film. The latest tenant and maintenance man, Louison [played by Dominique Pinon] is up for being slaughtered and the other tenants and Clapet try and get him but Louison and Julie [they love each other now, by the way] manage to block them. Then they go into the bathroom as they await their fate of being chopped up by the crazy tenants and Clapet who have knives and other sharp instruments. Louison turns to Julie and says “there’s only one thing left to do” and he rips Julie’s dress off and starts to undress himself. You immediately think “oooo sexy time” but you’re slowly proven wrong. The clothes are to block the holes. They’re going to try and drown themselves. Then other stuff happens and they live. I’m not going to tell you how so watch the film!
Other notes: fat guy gets shot; creepy man in a room that looks like the ship from Pirates of the Caribbean and its filled with frogs and snails; cheeky kids; and playing the musical saw. Oh, and someone called Dr. Livingstone.
If you like Saw but also love a good comedy and some old-fashioned slapstick, you HAVE to see this film, Delicatessen! Its on Netflix and you can watch it on your computer whenever you like! You will not be disappointed.
Time to have lunch with non-human ham!