Film Review: Delicacy (La Délicatesse), The Alliance French Film Festival

| 6 March , 2012 | 1 Reply

Directed by: David & Stéphane Foenkinos
Starring: Audrey Tautou, François Damiens, Pio Marmaï
Sassi\’s Star Rating: 4/5

Whenever a highly popular book is turned into a novel, it\’s always curious ground for audiences to manoeuvre.

The words ‘textual integrity\’ and ‘authenticity\’ are hurled like hand grenades between the waring factions of creative adaptation, and staying in line with the novel. And while passionate fans fight over what would have made the book to film process more true, filmmakers are often caught in the crossfire.

But it looks like in the case of Delicacy (La Délicatesse) it might be the filmmakers themselves who get the final words.


Delicacy is based on the very popular book of the same name, which reigned as the number one best seller in France for months, having sold over 700,000 copies before the film version was even released (and there\’s been a recent film related spike in sales, if you hadn\’t already surmised).

The film features the one thing that is sure to rile up some of the more conservative fans: completely new scenes that don\’t appear in the book.  But these textual enthusiasts are going to have to bite their tongue before the usual cries about mutilating authorial vision escape, because this time the Delicacy author David Foekinos is also a Delicacy director (alongside his brother Stéphane).

David noted that while Stéphane was keen to make Delicacy into a film early on, he knew that a lot of the book couldn\’t work cinematically, and they had to get smart about bringing these well loved characters to life on screen.

“The adaptation is very faithful, but I think the scenes from the book weren\’t necessarily cinematographic” David says in a recent interview (courtesy of Transmission Films). “My challenge was to preserve the tone of the text while creating new fantasies.

“There are things that aren\’t in the book but a film is something different to a novel so the things we took from the book had to be visual.

“As I did all the interviews and debates one does when a new book is launched, I realized that this story was much more personal than I\’d realised and that this subject was very close to my heart.”

Delicacy tells the story of Nathalie (Tautou), who meets the love of her life François (Marmaï) at a café. The idyllic couple fall headfirst into love, and matrimony, quickly. But when François is unexpectedly killed in an accident, Nathalie is left in the depths of despair.

A few years later Nathalie is still stuck in her grief. In a moment of madness she kisses her co-worker, the incredibly odd Swede who works downstairs (Damiens). Markus is immediately infatuated with his lovely boss, and can\’t help but pursue her.

But Markus has more challenges to contend with than just his own immense social awkwardness. Nathalie attests that she doesn\’t even remember the kiss, and surely won\’t be doing it again. He must also compete for Nathalie\’s affections with the suave head of the company (Bruno Todeschini).

What results is a sweet romance story about two people who are too scared to fall. Simple in its approach and understatedly funny, Delicacy confronts life changing events (on both ends of the scale) without too much overt drama, and herein lies much of its charm.

The rest of it sprouts from curious characters brought to life by tender, affectionate performances. Tautou is lovely as always, but François Damiens wins over audiences as the knitted jumper wearing Markus. The excellent casting no doubt a testament to Stéphane Foenkinos, who has worked as a casting director on over sixty films.

A quirky tale of loss, love, and working out what happens in between; La Délicatesse is c\’est magnifique!

Delicacy is screening as part of the Alliance French Film Festival which kicks off in Sydney between the 6th and 25th of March, before travelling to Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, and Perth. This year\’s varied programme includes forty-five new and classic French films.

 Check the website for session times, venue information, and ticketing.


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  1. stacey says:

    can’t wait to see this one

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