Thursday, November 13, 2008


I watched a movie this week that I’m having trouble getting out of my head. It’s one of those movies that is so strange, so unlike movies I usually watch, that I keep thinking about it, over and over. The name of the movie is Delicatessen, a French movie (had to watch it reading English subtitles) which takes place in a science-fiction, post-apocalyptic setting. But it’s a comedy—well, a black comedy.

Post-apocalyptic times are desperate times for meat-eaters. The stark, burned-out landscape isn’t conducive to raising cows and chickens, I guess. So in a scarred, crumbling neighborhood, the residents of one apartment building, with a delicatessen at the street level, have found an answer of sorts. They run a continual ad for a “handyman”—free room and board included—attracting a steady supply of applicants. However, after a few days, the handyman becomes the Meat D’Jour for the residents, courtesy of the delicatessen butcher.

The cast of characters includes the butcher’s lonely cello-playing daughter; a family of five including a bickering couple, two mischievous boys, and a deaf old mother-in-law; a formerly wealthy man and his chronically suicidal wife; two brothers who make cow-moo noisemakers in their apartment; a diabolical postman; the snail-eater in the basement; and troglodytes in the sewers.

The hero of the movie is the down-on-his-luck, out-of-work, gentle-hearted clown who answers the ad for the handyman and becomes the latest potential victim—unless the butcher’s cello-playing daughter can figure out a plan to save him with the help of the grain-eating, sewer-dwelling troglodytes.

Delicatessen is an older film—1991—directed by the same man who directed Amelie that I wrote about back on May 23 because I loved the movie so much. I hope it doesn’t mean that I’m losing my mental faculties when I am suddenly attracted to odd, quirky French movies with English subtitles. I think it just means I’ve been married to the little Frenchman too long.

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