DIR: David Foenkinos, Stephane Foenkinos WRI: David Foenkinos  PRO:
Xavier Rigault, Marc-Antoine Robert  DOP: Remy Chevrin  ED: Virginie
Braunt  DES: Maamar Ech-Cheikh  Cast: Audrey Tautou, Francois Damiens,
Bruno Todeschini, Pio Mamai

Born in 1974, David Foenkinos has earned himself a reputation as one
of France’s newest and brightest writers over the past decade. Since
2001, he has penned more than a dozen published works, though one
piece, in particular, has helped to cement his popularity in the
literary world. Written in 2009, La delicatesse (or Delicacy, as it
translates into English) quickly became a best-seller in his native
country, and it comes as no surprise to see it transformed onto the
big-screen in a relative short space of time.

Often in cases like this, there is a lack of correlation between what
is depicted in a film’s source novel and what is shown on screen, but
this is a problem that Delicacy manages to avoid, because Foenkinos
takes on directing duties himself, alongside his brother, Stephane

Neither man has a great deal of experience when it comes to directing
(their only previous directorial effort was the 13-minute short Une
histoire de pieds, which they made together), though Stephane has
acted as a Casting Director on numerous projects in the past,
including Casino Royale, The Visitor and Midnight In Paris.

For this reason, Delicacy is an extremely well-cast piece, none more
so than in the case of Audrey Tautou, one of France’s best-known
actresses, who takes on the role of Nathalie Kerr, a woman who finds
her seemingly perfect life turned upside down when her husband dies in
a tragic car accident.

Mostly thanks to her devotion to work, she gradually pieces her life
back together and, when she develops an unexpected emotional
connection with her Swedish co-worker, Markus Lundl (Francois
Damiens), three years on from her partner’s death, she discovers that
she may finally be able to leave the past behind her.

From the outlook, this seems like a very familiar set-up, and
certainly the structure of the film doesn’t raise too many surprises.
For those who come into the film cold (which will probably be the case
for many people in the UK and Ireland), the shift in direction that
happens as a result of Nathalie’s losing the love of her life will
probably come as something of a surprise but, aside from that, it is
largely standard fare.

Which isn’t to say that the The Foenkinos Brothers don’t find ways to
make their film an enjoyable journey while it lasts. As ever, Tautou
is a charming and reliable presence as Nathalie, a role for which she
is a perfect fit, and Bruno Todeschini is suitably sleazy as her
narcissistic boss.

However, the film’s real trump card comes in the form of Damiens, who
is a real revelation in the role of Markus, a schlubby 30-something
Scandinavian, who appears to be completely out of Nathalie’s league,
but suddenly finds himself becoming a part of her life more and more.

He first appears, unexpectedly, about 40 minutes into the film, and he
immediately lifts a narrative that was starting to wear thin with
well-balanced comic timing, as well as genuine heart and warmth. His
relationship with Tautou may seem implausible but, thanks to a
refreshing performance by Damiens, you are more than willing to
suspend your disbelief.

The finished product is by no means perfect, and it would have been
better served had it clocked in at 90 minutes rather than the 108
minutes the film is ultimately presented in, but there is still enough
evidence here to suggest that the Foenkinos may have bright futures in
filmmaking, though Delicacy may inevitably be viewed more so as a
stepping stone than anything else.

Daire Walsh

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
Delicacy is released on 13th April 2012


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