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delicatessen ( directors : marc caro/jean-pierre jeunet ; screenwriters : gilles adrien/marc caro ; cinematographer : darius khondji ; editor : herve schneid ; cast : dominique pinon ( louison ) , marie-laure dougnac ( julie clapet ) , jean-claude dreyfus ( clapet-the butcher ) , karin viard ( mademoiselle plusse ) , ticky holgado ( marcel tapioca ) , anne-marie pisani ( madame tapioca ) , jacques mathou ( roger ) , rufus ( robert kube ) , howard vernon ( frog man ) , edith ker ( granny ) , boban janevski ( young rascal ) , mikael todde ( young rascal ) , chick ortega ( postman ) , silvie laguna ( aurore interligator ) , howard vernon ( frog man ) ; runtime : 96 ; miramax/constellation/ugc/hatchette premiere ; 1991-france )
reviewed by dennis schwartz
a black comedy set in the near future in a boarding house run by a depraved butcher .
the comedy is played more in comic strip style for entertaining value than for deeper satire , as it features mostly zany sophomoric sight gags and relies heavily on special effects .
the world has fallen on hard times and there are food shortages which include no meat , so the butcher serves up meat from human flesh to customers who pay with grain , almost as valued a commodity .
that's the big joke in the film and the novelty of that cannibalism idea wears thin mighty fast , as the characters are too absurd and sketched too thinly for us to care about them .
this tasteless postapocalyptic french comedy is a first feature for the co-directors marc caro/jean-pierre jeunet .
it failed to reach my funny bone and instead left me mostly annoyed at its slight story and its dark projections for the future .
an ex-circus clown named louison ( dominique pinon ) , the film's too-good-to-be-true hero , answers an ad for work as a handyman for clapet ( jean-claude dreyfus ) , and the butcher and landlord , offers him room and board in his house .
the butcher's clumsy and near-sighted daughter julie ( marie-laure dougnac ) falls in love with the skinny , weird looking clown , and the two make some music together , with her playing the cello and him a saw .
they are the innocents , surrounded by a boarding house of misfits suffering from fear and watched over by her overbearing father , who has lured into his tenement the clown , as he has his past innocent victims , so that he can put his cleaver to him and then sell him as meat , which he intends to do as soon as the clown fixes up the tenement .
the entire film takes place in the shabby tenement , and the tenants are an odd lot of bizarre malcontents , who do not trust each other .
there are two youngsters ( boban janevski & mikael todde ) who do any kind of mischief they can .
a frog man ( howard vernon ) who lives with water on the floor so he can raise his frogs and snails that he eats .
two brothers ( mathou & kube ) who create little cow-moo novelty toys .
a man ( holgado ) who sells a bullshit detector to the butcher for his piece of meat .
a slutty woman ( karin viard ) , who lives with the butcher and only wants his meat .
the aristocratic woman ( silvie laguna ) who tries numerous times to commit suicide but is too inept to do it right .
the tenants are too afraid to come out at night because they know what the butcher is up to , so they are forced to communicate with each other through a pipe that runs through the building ( in one scene they are all in musical harmony to the lovemaking of the butcher and his gal , as their bedsprings squeak ) .
there is also a sex-crazed postman ( chick ortega ) , who lusts for the butcher's daughter and carries a gun while delivering the mail .
there is also an underdeveloped subplot about a band of incompetent underground veggie fanatics , called trogolodistes , who have been summoned to rescue the clown and steal some grain .
the directors overloaded the film with too many eccentrics , as the comedy seemed forced while the surreal look of the film added no dramatic intensity .
delicatessen could have some appeal to the cult film crowd who like their meat sliced thin , monty python fans , and those who liked terry gilliam's brazil , a film similar in spirit .
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