France, some time after the second world war. The country is in ruins, and there is not enough food around for everyone. The landlord of an apartment in a rural part of the country solves this by continuing his job as a butcher, regularly hiring new employees, eventually slaughtering them and serving them to his customers.
When Louison, a new hired handyman, falls in love with butcher Clapet’s beautiful daughter Julie, the wheel starts to turn in the other direction.
Délicatessen is, however, not a horror movie. The story may sound quite macabre, but the setting actually has a surprisingly cozy mood. Maybe it’s because the building’s tenants are surprisingly happy given the situation they’re in, or maybe it’s the fact that the dominant color in the film is a warm brown.
The movie develops in a quite unpredictable way, and there’s not a single boring moment. Every single tenant has its own, very eccentric personality: a cannibalistic butcher, an ex-circus clown and an old fellow living in a basement filled with snails and frogs are just three examples.
The movie does not feel dated even though it was originally released in 1991. Its style is not unlike one of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s other movies, Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain. Even though Délicatessen could be seen as a stylistic study that led to Jeunet’s later movies, it is an excellent movie in its own right.
Délicatessen is definitely a must-see for everyone who enjoys French films, dark comedies or surrealistic post-apocalyptic movies.