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Delicatessen
DVD disk
Jun 7, 2006 By: Jason Adams
Delicatessen order
Director:
Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro

Actors:
Dominique Pinon
Marie-Laure Dougnac
Jean-Claude Dreyfus

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Setup: In a creepy future society, meat has become a rare delicacy and the inhabitants of one apartment complex have accordingly struck an agreement with the butcher who owns their building—he provides them with some form of animal protein and they don’t ask where it came from. Conflict: The landlord’s daughter falls in love with the newest tenant/victim.

Cannibalism is funny!
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
DELICATESSEN is a very French movie. I don’t mean that in a negative way at all. (In fact, I’m not sure exactly what that entails.) It’s just got that certain unique Euro-vibe to it, very stylized and different. And you can thank AMELIE director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (and co-director Marc Caro) for that.

DELICATESSEN definitely gets most of its points for originality. For starters, this is one of the most visually intriguing movies I’ve seen. Picture early Tim Burton hopped up on meth directing a foreign film, and you have this living surrealist painting. Everything—the apocalyptic locales, the “distinguished” looking actors, the eccentric angles and weird filters—screams uniqueness, a rare treat in modern cinema. Even the myriad of apartment tenants are inventive, with each given their own eccentricities to characterize them despite limited screen time. I also appreciated Jeunet’s impressive use of sound throughout with audio effects playing almost as important a role as the visuals.

I like most movies that are “out there,” but with DELICATESSEN I never felt completely drawn in to the story or the characters enough. I appreciated the world Jeunet created and it was easy to interpret the theme of finding beauty in even the strangest of settings, but the engrossing distinctiveness ironically also kept me at an emotional distance (even with a cute albeit rushed love story). There were some very dark and comic moments (especially the great Rube-Goldberg suicide contraptions) but I wouldn’t classify DELICATESSEN as a comedy. I’m not sure what genre it fits in, but just know that if you’re not a fan of “weird” movies, I wouldn’t recommend this one.
THE EXTRAS
When foreign movies are dumped in the American market they’re usually lacking in the bonus features department. So I’m glad that DELICATESSEN has at least a few worthy extras.

Commentary by Jean-Pierre Jeunet: This is the first commentary I’ve encountered that was all subtitled and it was quite different then just listening to somebody talk about the movie. The track itself is quite nice. Jeunet is as engaging as you’d expect an attentive and inventive filmmaker to be. He reveals where he got the idea for the film, some of his influences, as well as how they captured the more dynamic visual sequences. He’s also honest about a couple spots that he found don’t completely work, which I can respect.

Fine Cooked Meats: A Nod to DELICATESSEN (13:32): Entirely comprised of behind-the-scenes footage from some of the more important sequences. From these snippets you can really get a sense of all the hard work that went into getting the film’s unique look and sound, for both cast and crew. It wasn’t a fun and relaxing shoot to say the least! This featurette doesn’t have any narration or speaking aside from the footage itself, and while it was weird at first, I kind of liked not hearing the typical overzealous gushing found in most extras.

The Archive of Jean-Pierre Jeunet (8:44): Some portions of Jeunet’s personal videos from the shoot, starting with audition footage and then location scouting and finally rehearsal tests. I quite enjoyed the multiple versions of each rehearsal, which allows you to see the actors progressing as they become more comfortable with each other.

In addition, there’s also a Theatrical Trailer and six Teasers, each running about ten-seconds and showcasing some of the weirder elements. If I just saw ten seconds of this movie, I’m not sure what I’d think.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
DELICATESSEN is one movie that is completely dependent on personal taste. If you like foreign flicks or weird (I must’ve used that word a hundred times in this review) mind trips, then I can see you enjoying the hell out of this one. It’s honestly almost worth a viewing just for the unique visual/auditory experience, but I can imagine some schmoes not making it past the fifteen minute mark. C’est la vie...
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