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How could I resist a French film about a clown and cannibals in a dystopian 1940’s setting?  Delicatessen was vaguely horror, vaguely humor, and vaguely Steampunk without the gears.

Louison, a former clown, is desperate for employment.  He answers an ad in a newspaper for a maintenance job in an apartment building, and winds up falling for the daughter of the owner.  The problem is the owner is also a butcher.  As in butcher, who runs a delicatessen on the ground floor of the building.  So, what’s the big deal?  Well, in this post apocalyptic world, everyone is starving to death, and the butcher’s prime cuts are the building’s endless string of maintenance men.  Julie (the daughter) desperately tries to save Louison by engaging the help of an underground (literally) subversive group of vegetarians.

I love a good black comedy, and Delicatessen fits the bill.  The exterior shots of the ruined apartment building surrounded by shells of their neighboring structures, the yellowish brown tint and sharp, dark shadows, all set the tone of a horror movie.  It sounds dark and desperate, and it is.  But there’s a perverse humor throughout.  Julie invites Louison to tea and self-consciously removes her glasses, turning the scene into a slapstick of over-run tea cups and broken vases.  The tenants all fall into rhythm with the increasing tempo of a mattress spring squeak during a love making scene.  One female tenant repeatedly attempts suicide with Rube Goldberg-type devices.  The deadly fight between the butcher and clown, on the roof with the TV antenna frequently cuts to other tenants shouting adjustment advice while watching their television sets.  This is definitely one of those underground films to put on your watch list.  Five stars.


  1. I love checking out foreign film – and this one was really good!

  2. Sounds like a fun movie, if a bit gruesome, lol. Glad you enjoyed it!

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