My 100 favourite films. Entry #5: Delicatessen.



Delicatessen (1991)
directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro
starring Dominique Pinon, Marie-Laure Dougnac and Jean-Claude Dreyfus
Country: France
Genre: Fantasy / Comedy / Drama

Visuals: 10/10
Writing: 7/10
Everyday watchability: 7/10

As you can probably tell by this point, I love a visually interesting film. A film could be flawlessly written and perfectly acted but still not find its way into my heart or onto this list. What really grabs me is the right mixture of style and substance, and most importantly, a style that is guided by the substance. Style by itself is certainly not enough, as while they can be interesting to look at, they're more hollow than a chocolate bunny.

This brings us to the fifth entry on my list, Delicatessen, a film which is absolutely stunning. The quality of light is rich and warm and inviting, but its tobacco hue also makes things feel aged and slightly decaying. The movie's about a one-building apartment complex in a presumably post-apocalyptic world, although we never hear why it's post-apocalyptic. The denizens of the building survive by recruiting new renters, having them work for a bit, and then killing them, the butcher cutting them up and divvying out the meat. A new handyman comes to the complex, does some chores, discovers the scheme and tries to get out with his life (and his new girlfriend of course).

While the story is intriguing, what makes it work are the gorgeous visuals and the fantastic (in both senses of the word) production design. Jeunet also has a way of making the world seem magical without making it also seem corny. There's a scene where two characters make love on a squeaky bed, and the creaks and squeaks echo through the building, providing the tempo of a paint brushing, holes drilling and strings bowing. As the bed noises speed up, so do the activities, to the point where the others can't keep up, breaking down at the very same moment. It's the kind of moment movies try to portray often, where the view believe that the world is an interesting, serendipitous place, but few pull it off like this.

But for now, just look at it....

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