Delicacy (Cohen Media Group, PG-13)

delicacy tautouI’m prone to liking any damned French romantic comedy that Audrey Tautou is in. I seem to be pretty blind to quality when it comes to French movies she’s in.

 

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It occurred to me recently that I am prone to liking certain types of foreign movies the American counterparts of which I am not especially fond. A good example of this is the traditional, mainstream romantic comedy; where I have to think for a little while to come up with more than a couple recent American romantic comedies I like, for some reason, I seem to like most French romantic comedies that come down the pike. Not because they’re better films, so far as I can tell; it seems to have something to do with them being French.

Recently, I’ve expanded this theory: I’m prone to liking any damned French romantic comedy that Audrey Tautou is in. I seem to be pretty blind to quality when it comes to French movies she’s in. L’Auberge Espagnole, Russian Dolls, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, Priceless—these are all films of hers that I like a lot, but can’t come up with a good defense for in terms of their artistic viability.

Add Delicacy to that list. Delicacy is the new film from directors (and twin brothers) David and Stéphane Foenkinos. In a lot of ways, it seems like last year’s Lone Scherfig film One Day, except that I hated One Day and liked Delicacy. (The two films were in production at the same time, so I don’t mean to imply that one is a rip-off of the other.) The similarity between the two mostly comes in Delicacy’s first half, and then it veers off on its own. The first half is told in kind of a fast-forward style, in which two scenes that, chronologically speaking, are days, months, or years apart are linked together with a quick match cut, keeping the pace of the film brisk and the viewer sometimes making quick mental adjustments to calibrate where we are on the timeline. It stops doing this so much partway through, once the story finds its meatiest bit on which to slow down.

As the film begins, we are introduced to François (Pio Marmaï), who falls in love with Tautou’s Nathalie on something like first sight while wasting time in a café. We don’t see their courtship (the movie glides right over that), but we do see Nathalie’s life on the rise beginning with her meeting François: She gets a good job thanks in part to a man named Charles (Bruno Todeschini), and may have only gotten it because he thinks she’s attractive; she makes friends; her and François’ families get along well, etc. Soon after getting her new job, she makes friends with a big, goofy guy named Markus (François Damiens) at work, which invokes the ire of Charles, given that Nathalie won’t pay him any more attention than is necessary to pay one’s boss.

If this all sounds awfully generic, for the most part, it is. I’ve largely been leaving out how cute the whole thing is, and I mean that it’s cute in a bad way—it’s kind of forcibly whimsical and twee a lot of the time. Even so, I enjoyed myself just fine, thanks almost in whole to the cast. It’s no secret that I have long loved Tautou, but the trio of men in the film—Marmaï, Todeschini, and Damiens—are all good at what they do, too, with Marmaï and Damiens being likeable enough to at least kind of hold their own opposite Tautou.

I wonder what would happen if Audrey were cast in an English-language romantic comedy… | Pete Timmermann

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