Brothers David and stÉphane combine forces to bring David’s best-selling novel La Délicatesse to life. The result is a thoughtful, kooky dramedy that aims at the deeper recesses of the heart, set in Paris, naturellement.
Tautou is typically charming as the wounded Nathalie, her coquettish presence will be familiar to fans of Coco Before Chanel and Amelie. The ability to express both delight and misery in quick succession is a valuable asset given the film’s demands: she mourns her lost husband through work, keeping a lid on baser grief with sweet aplomb. It’s classic Tautou. The real surprise is François Damiens, an actor largely unknown to Western audiences but popular in Europe. Markus couldn’t be less like Nathalie. Where she is beautiful, he is as ugly as a baguette; she oozes confidence, he is awkward and ignored until she, in a fugue state, kisses him. An offbeat chemistry is sparked and catches fire. Damiens’s light comic touch allows the Foenkinoses to leaven what could have been a more depressing story of rebuilding after loss. Moments of lyricism are accentuated by the soundtrack, in addition to Nathalie and Markus’s poignant voiceovers. At the last, the Foenkinos brothers avoid cliché, tempering the French tendency for whimsy with the, well, French tendency for equivocality.
Heartrending yet amusing, a candid comprehension of life’s tragedies.