Monday, 9 April 2012

An acquired taste: "Delicacy"

The rather dull French bauble Delicacy is chiefly notable for the most egregious romcom casting since 97's She's the One tried to pass off screen heavy Frank Vincent as Jen Aniston's dad. Here, we're supposed to buy perpetually downtrodden Robert Guédiguian muse Ariane Ascaride as maman to wide-eyed waif-u-like and erstwhile Amélie Audrey Tautou. The mismatch leaps out at you, because there's very little else for the eyes and brain to focus on for the film's first 15 minutes, a potted history of the perfect love life Tautou's aspirant lawyer enjoys with hunky bf-turned-hubby Pio Marmaï. Then Marmaï gets himself run over crossing the road - hélas - and you realise this is going to be one of those dramas about a woman walking away from grief and back into the light with another, marginally less hunky beau. Chief candidates, in this case, are Tautou's suave yet married boss (Bruno Todeschini) and a strapping Swedish colleague (François Damiens), who - in a concession to realism - has a bit of a bald patch.

Within this rigidly familiar framework, you have to go looking for whatever minor pleasures or deviations you can find. Tautou has a quiet, shot-handheld sequence early on, returning to her suddenly empty apartment and pondering whether or not to delete hubby from her phone, which may catch you off-guard if you were feeling blue, and the lawfirm scenes feature a couple of secretaries (Mélanie Bernier, Audrey Fleurot) who have rather more going on than the leading lady. Mostly, it's cutesy filler: business with emoticons on instant messaging, split-screen phonecalls and Pez dispensers; a nocturnal diversion past the Eiffel Tower, as though we've never seen it before; lots of shots of la Tautou looking pert or pinched or as fierce as she can manage, given that there's absolutely no authentic emotion being generated to connect her, the script and the audience. After impressing precisely no-one with her English-language debut The Da Vinci Code, I fear Tautou may have retreated to become to the French film industry what Sarah Jessica Parker is to its American equivalent: a perfume saleswoman and part-time actress whose name and image alone are supposed to be enough to rally female cinemagoers to the Curzon Soho. A few more of these, and they won't be. Elsewhere, Marmaï, Todeschini and Damiens merge into a hairy mass of Gallic ordinariness: clearly, the lady has un type, and if Dave Lee Travis were twenty years younger and living on the Left Bank, he might well be in with a shout.

Delicacy opens in selected cinemas from Friday.

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