The French title of the movie Délicatesse by the Foenkinos brothers has been translated by “delicacy,” in the process losing its je-ne-sais-quoi.
Delicacy brings food to mind rather than the subtle concept of thoughtfulness.
Yet délicatesse is what makes classy, sophisticated and altogether charming executive Nathalie (played by Audrey Tautou, no less) sit up and notice a humble co-worker, Markus (François Damiens).
Damiens is a schlub. His teeth are bad, he wears ugly sweaters and even his baldness is not an honestly receding hairline or a growing bald spot on the back of the head but the pathetic kind that leaves haphazard cottony tufts of indeterminate color strewn about.
What Markus had going for him is a self-deprecating sense of humor and loads of delicatesse.
Nathalie who lost her husband three years ago and has not since entertained the idea of dating again is gradually won over by her stodgy colleague who is attuned to the needs of others and in awe of the beautiful Nathalie whom he clearly worships.
Theirs is an unlikely couple, especially that the film doesn’t play the relation as a comedy but as a slice of life. Their utterly different backgrounds promises a future as difficult as that of biracial couple.
Witness the inane remarks of Nathalie’s friends who, caught off-guard by her paunchy, mundane friend of Swedish origin can only come up with sentences such as, “isn’t it a shame that that writer (presumably Stieg Larsson) died just as the last volume of his trilogy came out ?” Markus’s blank but still amiable expression is perfect.
As is this charming movie, lightweight, to be sure, but that doesn’t let go easily.