Delicatessen (1991) Movie Review

Delicatessen Directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Delicatessen Directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet

This Delicatessen movie review will reveal that humour emerges from a context - when absolute madness is fused with quirky dialogues, bizarre plot twists and a surprisingly tender story of love. If you are looking for a strange little tale of romance, violence and compassion then you must watch or buy Delicatessen. The film is a surreal comedy set in a futuristic post apocalyptic world where there is an extreme scarcity of food and therefore grains and pulses are being used as money.

Facts about Delicatessen (French), 1991

Director(s) of Delicatessen: Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Language: French

Cast of Delicatessen: Marie-Laure Dougnac, Dominique Pinon and Pascal Benezech

Genre: Comedy and Fantasy

Awards: European Film Award and Cesar Award

Delicatessen movie trivia: Jean-Pierre Jeunet got the idea of cannibalistic meals while holidaying in USA. According to him the food in the American hotels was so bad that it made him think of human meat. The idea of a cannibal butcher on the other hand occurred to him while he was staying in an apartment above a Butcher’s shop in France.

Reasons why you should watch or buy Delicatessen

The movie Delicatessen is one of the most entertaining and eccentric cult classic that has emerged from an otherwise large and exhausting canon of French Cinema. The story revolves around a butcher/landlord who runs his own delicatessen and serves human meat to his tenants. Such cannibalistic violence is executed by winning the trust of his helpers and eventually slaughtering them in order to feed the famished family and tenants.

1. Quirky characters of Delicatessen

The character of Louison, the innocuous and child like clown who joins the butcher’s apartment as a helper shines out as one of the most endearing and funny characters in the movie Delicatessen. Ignorant of the Butcher’s violent plans, he is always amusing the other children with circus tricks and despite the hostility that is thrown towards him by the other tenants he continues to be innocently helpful and charming.Throughout the film, Louison in his own sweet manner is found silently mourning over the loss of his old circus buddy, Livingston the chimpanzee who had been murdered to satiate the hunger of the depraved society. The butcher - Clapet, fat and stout too is full of eccentric idiosyncrasies. He is always seen counting his money (sacks of grains) and clashing his knives. He portrays the perfect caricature of a comic villain.

2. Delicatessen - Romance with a twist

Delicatessen lays out the setting for one of the most bizarre love story. The romance unfolds between Louison- the helper and Julie- the Butcher’s daughter. Critical of her father’s cannibalistic violence, Julie falls hopelessly in love with Louison. Louison’s chivalry and innocence inspire her to fight against her father and save Louison from his dreadful fate of getting killed and eventually eaten. Delicatessen is a sick, funny and twisted movie, yet it is this tale of romance which lends a rather sweet and tender waft to it.

3. Stunning visuals and the rustic feel of the movie

Delicatessen has one of the most beautiful and surreal visual imageries. The entire film is tinted with a hint of sepia. The rustic feel makes it appear as if the film is wrapped in a brown cellophane paper. The set paints an image of a post-war Europe, full of broken decrepit apartments with peeled off walls and shelled buildings. This description may appear dreary but one must watch Delicatessen to realize how the cinematography has treated these images to recreate a quaint and rather charming ambience.

4. Unique Background score of Delicatessen

The background score in Delicatessen is definitely one of the most brilliant and unique aspects of the film. Instead of using conventional instruments and symphonic orchestras, the directors have allowed the characters and the objects in the film to speak and weave out their own background music. The clashing of the knives, the crackling of the radio, the creaking of the springs, the rhythmic thumping of a mat which is being dusted, all make up for an astounding background score. The music played by Julie and Louison by their musical saws is also one of the most interesting highlights of this film.

5. Black Humour in Delicatessen

Delicatessen represents black humour at its best. Never too dark, never too light, it maintains a perfect balance. Like many other Caro and Juenet films, the black humour in Delicatessen too is laced with a sense of innocence. From a post-man who carries a ‘bullshit detector’, radical groups who call themselves ‘vegetarian freedom fighters’ to an old man who has turned his apartment into a swamp so he can eat the frogs and snails - Delicatessen is one of the most clever and offbeat black comedy.

Watch Delicatessen movie trailer

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Keith Breese Delicatessen movie review

"When the dust settles, the laughing jags fade and the blood coagulates, Delicatessen is about much more than cinematic thrills. Sure, it's funny, it's gross, it's diabolically, unabashedly idiosyncratic, but it's also an epic ode to that most fundamental expression of human endeavor - creativity"

Source: Filmcritic

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Comments 12 comments

Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

Excellent hub on a strange but excellent movie. I think the 6th reason to watch is to watch how the director Jean-Pierre Jeunet improved over the years....because after this movie you would have to check out some of his other movies like Children of the Lost City, Amelie, and A Very Long Engagement....all movies I love......but I think you can skip his latest movie Micmacs. Voted awesome and informative.

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

I've seen Amelie and loved it (re: Cogerson's comments). I've not yet seen this movie.

But in terms of the theme: There was a short story that I believe was made into a Hitchcock Presents or similar anthology series-I cannot remember the name of the author, but there is a restaurant that only occasionally serves their meal with the secret ingredient everyone loves it and there is no advance warning about which night it will be-so everyone comes every night, if they can-some can't. See, at the end of the meal, one diner is invited to go to the kitchen and learn the secret-never to be seen again. No one catches on.

And then of course there is Soylent Green.

I'll have to check out this movie.

princesswithapen profile image

princesswithapen 5 years ago Author

Hi Cogerson

It's always good to know a fellow Pierre lover! Of course, I've seen Amelie but there's something about Delicattasen that pushed me to pick writing about it over Amelie. I'll have to do a movie review on Amelie soon. Thanks for stopping by and for your insights!


princesswithapen profile image

princesswithapen 5 years ago Author

Flora, you must watch Delicatessen. It's a library of zany sequences that look unrealistic, fantasy-like and humorous on the surface. Yet, they are so life like when you think about it later. Thanks for the lovely insight on the Hitchcock trilogy and the restaurant.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

I have seen French movies, 400 Blows and Hiroshima Mon Amour are my all time favorite. Your review looks interesting, I will definitely watch this.

princesswithapen profile image

princesswithapen 5 years ago Author

Hi Vinaya Ghimire

I've heard about 400 Blows but haven't seen it yet. I should put it on top priority in my must-watch movie list. Delicatessen is a quirky movie and if this movie review has got you curious, you must watch it!


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

Looking forward to your Amelie review....the movie that got me on the Jeunet bandwagon was The City of the Lost Children....I saw one preview and was blown was actually the first date for my wife and myself...we had to drive 3 hours to the only theater that was playing the movie.....did you know Play Station 2...actually came out with a game based on the movie?

TheDailyMessenger profile image

TheDailyMessenger 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

to princesswithapen,

I must say I have never heard of this movie but, in a way it looks very interesting.


princesswithapen profile image

princesswithapen 5 years ago Author


I'm sure the movie holds a special place in your heart, specially if you saw it on your first date with your wife. And I did not know about the game on PS 2 based on Amelie. Wow, very interesting! Although I am not a big fan of gaming, this makes me curious and I'll have to check it out.


princesswithapen profile image

princesswithapen 5 years ago Author


As Cogerson has pointed out in his comment above, Delicatessen is a strange movie. Having said that, this movie is a fantastic 'movie watching experience', if you know what I mean.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

Actually the PlayStation game is based on City of the Lost Children.

An attached review...

princesswithapen profile image

princesswithapen 5 years ago Author

Thanks for the link, Cogerson. I'll have a look at it.


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