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A French Charmer About Finding Love When You Least Expect It
on September 12, 2012
The infectious Audrey Tautou takes center stage in this charming French confection about love in its various configurations. Ever since "Amelie," I've been enchanted with Tautou. She is so likable and natural with an intriguing ease on screen. It's almost impossible not to relate to her in some manner, and I think this appeal can sometimes overshadow her talent. And she is a true talent, she just makes it look simple. She goes through a strong character arc in "Delicacy" and is absolutely terrific. From contentment, to loss and withdrawal, to romantic rebirth--Tautou experiences much in this film filled with both melancholy and hope. Billed as a whimsical romantic comedy, I wouldn't discount this movie as merely frothy entertainment (although it surely is). There is a truth and poignancy at the heart of "Delicacy" that really resonates. This isn't pure fantasy. There are real life situations, genuine heart, and a surprising depth beneath the sweet exterior. And I, for one, appreciated that the movie felt true to life without sacrificing its charm.
As the movie opens, Tautou seems to be a woman who has it all. But this idyllic existence is short lived as a tragic accident scrambles her contented life. Picking up three years later, Tautou has thrown herself into her career. Although well liked, she appears to have dismissed all notions of finding romance. In fact, she isn't looking for it in any way, shape, or form. Fending off unwanted advances and becoming the fodder for office speculation, one day she breaks routine with a defiant and almost unconscious act. She impetuously kisses a subordinate (Francois Damiens) and proceeds as if nothing has happened. But Damiens is besotted and this unremarkable (and relatively meaningless) moment might just have long range repercussions. The two are an unlikely match, but they begin a casual friendship that is very winning. Can you find love when you're not looking for it? Or is there any other way? The biggest obstacle, in this case, is the resistant Tautou. But maybe everything happens for a reason.
Tautou, as I've said, is really great here but she is matched by Damiens (traditionally known for more broad comedy). While I was amused throughout, I was also completely invested in both of the characters. I'm not particularly sentimental, but this simple story felt remarkably believable. An easy recommendation for fans of French romance, I think this is a film experience with pretty universal appeal. Its goals are relatively modest, but it certainly achieves what it sets out to do. About 4 1/2 stars. The North American release has Bonus features that include a making-of featurette as well as an exclusive interview with the luminous Tautou. KGHarris, 9/12.