This 2011 offering has Audrey Tautou in it. Need one say more? Ever since I watched her as "Amelie" in 2001 I've been entranced, like the rest of the world. In the airy and whimsical "La delicatesse" she plays Nathalie Kerr, an essentially joyful soul who is suddenly widowed one fine day when her beloved husband dies in an accident. She loses herself in grief and takes recourse in her work, and only her work.
A few years pass before something unexpected happens. This something takes the shape of a tall, blond, endearing, sensitive and all-round decent (Swedish) guy named Markus Lundell who happens to be her co-worker. Nathalie and Markus play off each other's fears, in a way: she is under the shadow of her grief still, and he is so swept off his feet by his feelings for her that he is actually afraid of moving forward lest he hurt himself. Their back-and-forth is awkward, even clumsy; yet lighthearted enough to prise a smile out of the most jaded viewer.
This souffle-light treatment permeates the film. And that's a good thing, with themes like grief and the overcoming of it, finding love unexpectedly and then having the courage to go with it. Also present is the particular social interplay surrounding a nascent romance within the confines of a workplace. And finally there is the helplessness and desperation of a sudden spark of romantic connection that grows before one has blinked an eye, into the whole of one's life. This growth is more evident in the self-deprecating Swede, to be sure, but Nathalie has her own small battles to wage.
Beauty abounds in the form of the immortal Paris streetscapes, especially at night, and the countryside. Then there's the leading lady herself, tiny and twinkling as ever. You can see why the hapless Markus is so in danger of losing his head. She is radiant and stylish, no doubt, but also has a certain unique charm that is very much suited to the word 'elfin'; and I do agree that there's a good bit of fairy-dust (or is it pixie-dust) sprinkled on her in minute, shimmering flakes. I could almost see the poor actor shouting, "Dammit, Tautou, will you stop twinkling at me for two seconds! I'm trying to emote here!"
Still, his suffering is enjoyable in that it puts you in the poignant position of watching someone fall in love. Because in the end, love is the sweetest thing and happily, La Delicatesse lets you savor this small and regrettably rare truth for its 108 minutes.
Directors: David and Stephane Foenkinos
Overall rating: 8/10