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Movie Review

Movie Review: 'Delicacy'

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Movie Review: 'Delicacy'
Photo Source: Cohen Media Group
Tell me, when will we be allowed to dislike Audrey Tautou? Surely the moment is coming; you can only play so many winsome, charming heroines before people start pointing out cracks in the façade. Tautou’s day of reckoning is still a long way off, if “Delicacy” is any indication. The likable French romantic comedy stars Tautou as a woman who loves and loses and loves again. Given that it’s also a workplace comedy, there are probably dozens of cultural signifiers getting lost in the trip across the Atlantic, but directors David and Stéphane Foenkinos imbue the film with such warmth that it can’t help but transcend national quirks.

“Delicacy,” adapted by David from his novel, takes place at home and at work. Tautou plays Nathalie, who moves from low-level executive to high-level executive over the course of the film, and not in an isn’t-she-fabulous way, either. It’s implied that Nathalie works too hard to keep her mind off her late husband, whom we see for just long enough to miss him. Eventually, between her sleazy boss’ unwelcome advances and her friend Chloe’s extreme candor about her own love life, Nathalie gets desperate enough to plant a kiss on the first guy who walks by: Markus (François Damiens), possibly the nerdiest guy in IT. The kiss is just a moment of insanity for Nathalie, but it affects lonely Markus profoundly.

Damiens is a wonder. Clearly miles out of his league, his painfully decorous character is potentially either an unlovable loser or a geeky male author proxy (I’m looking at you, Charlie Kaufman), but Damiens perfectly walks the line between teddy bear and gross dweeb. It helps immeasurably that the actor is physically huge. The costumer has emphasized the length of his hirsute arms at every opportunity, and as a result Damiens looks like some sort of gentleman gorilla or perhaps a St. Bernard who has fallen in love with a dachshund.

The two have precise, fun chemistry, but that’s less the exception in “Delicacy” than the rule. Mélanie Bernier, as Chloe, and Tautou nail the uncomfortable dynamic between a shy woman and an oversharer, and Bruno Todeschini, as Nathalie’s unwelcome pursuer-supervisor Charles, does the nigh-impossible and wrings a moment or two of sympathy out of his detestable character. It’s worth the price of a ticket just to see the—well, let’s call it a showdown, for want of a better word—between Charles and distant subordinate Markus, which takes place over drinks and ends with Markus gently bundling a toasted Charles into a cab.

The movie isn’t perfect. There’s voiceover in a few places for some reason, and those moments are robbed of any nuance the cast might be able to give them. Ultimately, this is the actors’ movie, and so much the better.

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Directors: David Foenkinos and Stéphane Foenkinos
Writer: David Foenkinos
Cast: Audrey Tautou, François Damiens, Bruno Todeschini, Mélanie Bernier, Joséphine de Meaux

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