Delicacy (2012) Review

Delicacy is a quiet and self-aware story about a woman who is set to recover from a whirlwind love after the death of her husband. The fate of her future rests on her ability to recover from her heartache. Hers is the tale of everyone who stands to gain in learning to forgive love.

Audrey Tatou is well cast as Nathalie the blissfully adored wife of Francois. She is happily married and aspiring to a career that will allow her and her husband the family they desire. She has positioned herself into the life she hopes to live. And then her husband dies.

Delicacy explores the innate insecurity of everyone in Nathalie’s world when faced with such a great and impactful loss. Her family and friends are affected. Her co-workers are affected. Attempts to carry-on with life are examined as if under a microscope. Superior’s and subordinates find themselves spectators and judges. Audiences are connected to the inner dilemmas and outer dramas encountered by one woman’s slow attempt to rebuild her faith and trust in love.

Directors and brothers, David and Stéphane Foenkinos, have synergized David’s novel into the film adaptation both imagined it would always be. La Délicatesse has been translated into twenty-one languages and sold seven hundred thousand copies. Its artistry is unparalleled.

Francois Damiens as Markus, is glorious as the cautious employee of Nathalie, careful to remain in control of his growing fondness of his superior. He maintains his dignity and wit by a hair’s thread in acknowledgement of the worth of the object of his affection. Damiens’ Markus possesses an innocence that brims with diligent grace. Though his character is Swedish, the spoken language is French with English subtitles and, the leading man is elegantly fluent.

The film is set against the backdrop of bass and lyrical eloquence that is written and composed by Emilie Simon. Her brass, keyboard and electric rhythms denote a finesse and subtlety to adages of love that remain tried and true. Her personal loss of a loved one fuels and inspires a score that rises, ebbs and flows, and crashes along with the storyline only to calm again as the tide turns.

Rife with very old-styled and classically worked character traits, Delicacy is poised to entice the most diehard appreciators of romantic shtick. The villain and arch-nemesis is a dark-haired bore, abusive in his power and disrespect of social graces. His receptionist is a buxom red head who follows his orders without question. The hero is fair-haired, honorable and somehow beastly in physical proportion to the fair and petite Nathalie. Pio Marmai, the ill-fated Francois, is young, handsome, strong and completely given over to Nathalie.

Audiences who are familiar with the writing style of the author will applaud his transition to director. He has stated that the goal was to implement as many visual references from the novel as is necessary to complement cinema. The focus and most notable detail to the story is the passage of time. As a direct indicator of youth, Nathalie is featured in a high and bouncing ponytail. Like her hair, her expressive face is also an indicator of time. Natural light is used to heighten or lower the visual emotion of characters, the heroine being the tight focus.

For audiences undergoing their first exposure to the story, the craftsmanship and character development allow them to enjoy and appreciate its bouquet. The darkness of the subject matter plays second fiddle to the imminent rebirth of a noble and near martyr for love. There exist a dreamlike euphoria within all the exchanges between husband and wife. These beautifully ethereal scenes engage audiences and endear Nathalie to them. Even as sadness falls, Delicacy is given to tangible hope and a lighthearted sense of romantic mockery.

The film is for audiences who are looking for a thoughtful escape on a slow and lazy day. This is a dramatic story about love with comedy to ease the intense weight of uncontrollable fate. A tissue or handkerchief is suggested.