May 18, 2010
Imagine a post-apocalyptic France. A world where grain has become a form of currency and meat is considered a rarity, as most of the animals of the world have been driven to extinction. Now, imagine a cannibalistic butcher/land-lord who threatens to butcher his tenants should their bills not arrive as scheduled. Thus is the setting of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Delicatessen - the director's creative and visually-appealing directorial debut. Though the film certainly contains those said elements, the film leaves something to be desired as far as characterization goes.

In the film, we follow a former clown, Louison, as he moves into the apartment run by the cannibal butcher/land-lord. Things get complicated fast, however, once Louison falls in love with the butcher's charming young daughter. With angry butchers, zany anarchists, and eccentric apartment neighbors to deal with, Lousion has a lot to balance while wooing the young girl of his dreams.

Visually, the film's impeccable. From the outskirts of the world to the butcher's quarters, everything in this film looks incredible. The cinematography is really top-notch, and the creativity behind these locales is to be commended as well. The "frog and snail" room, the butcher's daughter's colorful room, etc. and so forth. The film's visuals are a treat, to say the least.

The characters, on the other hand, aren't that good. With the exception of the charming Louison and the woman of his dreams, all of the other characters just aren't all that interesting. They've got their quirks, that's granted, but the film seems more interested in the gimmicks behind the quirks rather than the actual characters. For instance, the suicidal woman (and the lengths she goes to) may be humorous at first, but the jokes behind her quirkiness quickly grow stale. I understand the concept of running gags, but this felt more like watching the same joke over and over. At least Louison and his girl were interesting, as the rest of the characters really got stale before the second half.

It's because of the film's crucial character flaw that the rest of the movie sort of falls apart. I can't really comment on the pacing, for instance, because of how completely uninterested I was in the supporting cast. Whenever it was just Louison and his girl, however, I found myself enjoying the film a lot more. Unlike the one-note jokes of the supporting cast, these two were charming, likable, and evolved throughout the film.

Still, the film's pretty fair. Though its characters leave something to be desired, the visuals and creativity behind the film are really fantastic. Delicatessen is also far from boring, as its two main leads deliver in terms of performance and interest. It's not a good movie, but it's certainly not a bad movie either.

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