Magazine article Variety


Magazine article Variety


Article excerpt





After an out-of-the-blue French kiss, a slobby Swede becomes the unlikely love interest of a widowed Gallic gamine in "Delicacy." Helmed by brothers and tyro helmers Stephane and David Foenkinos, and based on the letter's eponymous bestseller, the pic tries to graft some moments of "Amelie"-like whimsy, romance and gentle comedy onto what's essentially a chaste and slow-moving melodrama. French Christmas release opened to midrange numbers and has been presold to almost 20 territories. Cohen Media Group is eyeing a spring release in the TJ.S.

The prolonged, upbeat opening focuses on the fairy-tale romance and marriage of Francois (Pio Marmai) and Nathalie (Tautou). They have it all: a meet-cute (involving apricot juice), a wedding under the snow (captured in a whirling dolly shot), cute voiceovers, good looks and their entire lives ahead of them.

But when Francois dies in a jogging accident, Nathalie's life suddenly turns dark (as do her ciothes). In lieu of mourning, for three years she dedicates herself completely to her job at a Parisbased Swedish firm in an unidentified line of business, though the office's light wood paneling and marble stairs suggest northern efficiency without a hint of passion or emotion.

Nathalie's life, and the movie, are finally thrown for a loop about a halfhour in when, on a whim, she decides to kiss Markus (Francois Damiens), a Swedish colleague who's fluent in French. A balding man with a toothy smile and a range of grandpa sweaters in different shades of beige, Markus is immediately smitten with her. And though Nathalie's entourage, led by her best friend (Josephine de Meaux, playing a character not actually in the novel), frowns on her choice of this nondescript co-worker, something in the petite, dark-haired worker bee has reawakened.

In transferring his novel to the screen, David Foenkinos has opted for a tripartite structure that clearly delineates what auds should feel: utter wonder and happiness, followed by shock and sorrow and then, ever so gradually, a sense of returning to the world of the living. In an almost two-hour film, it all comes off as a little too schematic and neat, with only two well-realized fantasy sequences, both involving Markus, offering something that works better onscreen than it would on the page. …

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