Details: (M), 108 mins, In Cinemas 3 May 2012, France,
Synopsis: Natalie (Audrey Tautou) isn’t certain of anything anymore. One minute she is happily married, successful in her career and convinced the future is full of promise. But then a tragic accident occurs and her whole world is turned upside. Years later, still bruised by grief, she impulsively kisses her colleague Markus (François Damiens). For Natalie, it is just a kiss. For the awkward, unassuming Markus, it is the moment in which he falls hopelessly, helplessly in love. But how will he ever convince such a beautiful, intelligent, confused young woman that he is the man who can bring her back to life?
Odd couple rom-com rests too heavily on the charm of Tautou.
It would be disingenuous to suggest that Delicacy is anything other than a superbly constructed star vehicle for its radiant leading lady, Audrey Tautou. Like every other pair of eyes in their film, the camera of co-directors David and Stéphane Foenkinos simply swoons over her charismatic charms. No doubt one way to get your debut feature made is to promise one of Europe’s biggest stars this kind of showpiece.
Perhaps that is far too cynical an approach to a mostly lovely, bittersweet tale, adapted from David’s own novel ‘La delicatesse’. Tautou is suitably captivating as the young woman, Nathalie, who experiences true love before being plunged into profound grief. The perfect love she shares with the dreamy François (Pio Marmaï) is a Parisian romantic fantasy writ large; her descent into despair following his passing is equally grand. Throwing herself into the executive role she has with a Swedish company, she is propositioned by her smarmy boss, Charles (Bruno Tedeschini), before, in a moment of profound disconnect from her reality, she plants a big wet one on the office schlub, Markus (François Damiens).
The film then shifts focus to spend time profiling Damiens’ sweet but oafish lonely guy. He obsesses over Nathalie, who responds with gentle humour and decency. Markus’ clumsy attempts to woo Nathalie generate some nice laughs, but the Foenkino Brothers’ self-penned screenplay never lets Nathalie fade too far into the background; Damiens’ lovable lug remains mostly just that, and no support players emerge from the glare of their leading lady’s doe-eyed wattage.
Full appreciation of Delicacy requires an audience predisposed to adoring its star and her character; there are so many zoom close-ups, mid-length tracking shots and teary scenes of Tautou and her quirky lovability that much of what needs to be delicate about Delicacy gets lost in her presence.
Delicacy did enough to win me over, as the film I wanted to fall in love with surfaces occasionally. A sweet rooftop moment between the mismatched pair surprises with its transition between scenes, suggesting Delicacy is morphing into a fantasy of sorts; the ending, set in a country-side garden filled with memories, is entirely beguiling. However, that the film works in the end is in spite of – and not, sadly, because of – Tautou's presence.
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