STUDIO: Miramax
MSRP: $29.99
RUNNING TIME: 100 min.
• “Fine Cooked Meats”: A Nod To Delicatessen
• The Archives of Jean-Pierre Jeunet
• Feature Commentary by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
• Theatrical Trailer
• Teasers

The Pitch

“Look what we found jammed behind the espresso machine in Harvey’s office. And he was using Peking Opera Blues as a doorstop.”

The Humans

Dominique Pinon (Amelie), Marie-Laure Dougnac, Jean-Claude Dreyfus (The Lady and the Duke), Karin Viard, Rufus, Ticky Holgado, Sylvie Laguna (Jefferson In Paris)

I’ll just get the Kevin Bacon joke out of the way now.

The Nutshell

In a polluted, economically devastated wasteland, the tenants of an isolated apartment building cling to the pretense of civilization. The landlord (Dreyfus) also runs the butcher shop downstairs, and isn’t above sacrificing an occasional tenant for the good of the rest. As the story begins, a retired clown (Pinon) moves in, and assumes the vacant handyman position. Fresh meat, indeed.

"It was self-defense. My head was killing me."

The Lowdown

Visionary French filmmakers Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro made their names with this 1991 production, and it holds up quite well fifteen years later. The passage of time has rendered it less nonsensical, and more clearly a reflection of anxieties regarding the then-nascent European Union. Though owing an obvious visual debt to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, Delicatessen itself inspired a sub-genre of quirky post-industrial fantasies, ranging from Spain’s Accion Mutante to Hungary’s Kontroll.

Pinon ably recalls Keaton and Chaplin in the lead role—a shock to me, since at the time I’d only ever seen him as that creepy little psycho in Diva. Dougnac is terribly cute as the butcher’s daughter; she’s done mainly TV since, which is too bad for us. I’d also like to single out Laguna for her restrained mania in the role of Mrs. Interligator.

A common faux pas in the early days of indoor plumbing

The Package

Thank Miramax for imploding when they did, as it means they were too preoccupied to cut half an hour out of this film, change the title, or dub it into English. The supplements are all ports from the French DVD, and English subtitles are provided for everything. The image flickers noticeably from time to time, but this seems to be an artifact of the original photography. The theatrical trailer is simply one of the best ever made.

Coming soon– Amelien: Resurrection.

9 out of 10