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"Delicacy": Audrey Tatou Plays a Meager Widow 

Wednesday, Mar 14 2012

With her ponytail and toggle coat, Audrey Tautou, playing workaholic widow Nathalie in Delicacy, gives off a sexless, cutie-pie charm — not as aggressively as she did in Amélie, but still gratingly. The actress, therefore, is perfect for this dainty, inconsequential romantic dramedy, the first film from brothers David and Stéphane Foenkinos (written by the former, adapting his novel of the same name). Delicacy opens, with prolix voiceover, on the first encounter between François (Pio Marmaï) and Nathalie. A few minutes of screen time later, they're happily wedded; shortly after that, he's dead. (Tautou's requisite summoned-to-the-hospital scene shows her to be as convincing a griever as she is an object of desire.) Nathalie dulls the pain over the years by devoting herself to her job, an unclearly defined executive position at a Swedish-owned firm. After fending off some advances from her boss (Bruno Todeschini, pleasing as a passive wolf), Nathalie seemingly ends her mourning by smooching, out of the blue, co-worker Markus (François Damiens). The big, goofy Scandinavian falls in love instantly; the last two-thirds of Delicacy are devoted to their awkward courtship — a scenario made tolerable by Damiens. The actor brings to this film what his co-star is incapable of: vulnerability, shame, longing. But there's no escaping Tautou. Delicacy ends with her enormous eyeballs staring right back at us, daring us not to find her adorable.

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Melissa Anderson

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