A French woman mourning the death of her husband three years prior is courted by a Swedish co-worker.
DELICACY (La Délicatesse) follows the story of Nathalie (Tatou) from her happily married state through to the first stages of her widowhood. This may suggest a certain path to the drama, but these moments are artfully chosen. In the hands of other filmmakers this could have been could be predictable material, but isn’t.
Nathalie allows herself to be totally absorbed by her work and in so doing becomes an invaluable team member. She seeks a type of identification in her job, despite its being seemingly straightforward and at times mundane. Even after a significant amount of time passes, Nathalie seems more or less oblivious to the interest of the men around her. She is still spiritually joined to her late husband.
Then she meets Markus Lundi in unusual circumstances. Her relationship with her co-worker is hard to define. It’s not really a relationship. Neither she nor Markus would describe it as such. It’s barely even a friendship. The undefinable nature of their connection frustrates Markus and puzzles their friends and co-workers. Here DELICACY excels because it manages to be both comedic and romantic while also asking the audience to ponder the nature of love.
Audrey Tatou has many fans. Since AMELIE (2001) shot her to international fame, she has been a popular presence in world cinema. I didn’t enjoy AMELIE and have never particularly enjoyed a Tatou performance. So I approached DELICACY with a good deal of reviewer bias and consumer resistance. Her performance won me over well before the film was finished. It is a simple, skilful and well-rounded portrayal of a woman that no longer knows who she is. She has redefined herself as being without someone, but is denying this fact to herself.
Francois Damiens plays the unlikely suitor with heart and indeed delicacy. On the surface, this plotline employs one of my least favourite tropes in cinema–the geek who woos the beauty–however writers/directors David and Stéphane Foenkinos handle this well.
DELICACY is a lovely, life-affirming movie that shifts gears effortlessly between drama and comedy. It is currently in limited release in Australia and runs for 108 minutes. I rated it 8/10.