Delicatessen (1991 film)

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Original theatrical poster
Directed byMarc Caro
Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Produced byClaudie Ossard
Written byGilles Adrien
Marc Caro
Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Music byCarlos d'Alessio
CinematographyDarius Khondji
Edited byHervé Schneid
  • UGC
  • Hachette Première
  • Constellation
  • Victoires Productions
Distributed byMiramax Films
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • April 17, 1991 (1991-04-17) (France)
Running time
99 minutes
Budget$3.8 million
Box office$12.4 million[1]

Delicatessen is a 1991 French post-apocalyptic black comedy film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, starring Dominique Pinon and Marie-Laure Dougnac. It was released in North America as "presented by Terry Gilliam."[2]


In a dilapidated apartment building in a post-apocalyptic France, food is in short supply and grain is used as currency. On the ground floor is a butcher's shop, run by the landlord, Clapet, who posts job opportunities in the Hard Times paper as means to lure victims to the building, whom he murders and butchers as a cheap source of meat to sell to his tenants.

Following the murder of the last worker, unemployed circus clown Louison applies for the vacant position. During his routine maintenance, he befriends Clapet's daughter, Julie, a relationship which slowly blossoms into romance. Louison proves to be a superb worker with a spectacular trick knife and the butcher is reluctant to kill him too quickly. During this time several of the tenants fall under Louison's boyish charms, worrying others who are more anxious for their own safety should they require meat. Aware of her father's motives, Julie descends into the sewers to make contact with the feared Troglodistes, a group of vegetarian rebels, whom she persuades to help rescue Louison.

During the apparent butchering of an old woman, the Troglodistes attack but are repelled, and Clapet, with the unsympathetic tenants, storms Louison's room in an attempt to murder him. Louison and Julie resist by flooding themselves, floor to ceiling, in an upper floor bathroom until Clapet opens the door releasing the flood and washing the attackers away. Clapet returns with Louison's knife and inadvertently kills himself. Louison and Julie play music together on the roof of the now peaceful apartment building.



The film was received well critically. Variety called it "a zany little film that's a startling and clever debut."[3] Empire called it a "fair bet for cultdom, a lot more likeable than its subject matter suggests, and simply essential viewing for vegetarians".[4]

Not all reviews were positive, however, with The New York Times saying "its last half-hour is devoted chiefly to letting the characters wreck the sets, and quite literally becomes a washout when the bathtub overflows."[5]

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave it an approval rating of 89% from a total of 54 reviews with an average rating of 7.76/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet deftly combines horror, sci-fi, and humor in Delicatessen, a morbid comedy set in a visually ravishing futuristic dystopia."[6] Metacritic gave it 66 out of 100 out of a total of 17 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[7]


The film has won and been nominated for several important European awards. At the César Awards it won Best Editing, Best Debut, Best Production Design and Best Writing, at the European Film Awards it won Best Set Design, at Fantasporto the Audience Jury Award, at the Guild of German Art House Cinemas Best Foreign Film, at Sitges Best Actor, Best Director, Best Original Soundtrack and the Prize of Catalan Screenwriter's Critic and Writer's Association. At the Tokyo International Film Festival, it won the Gold Award. The film was nominated for the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics. It also received nominations for those award ceremonies as well as for the BAFTAs.


  1. ^ JP. "Delicatessen". JP's Box-Office. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  2. ^ Clark, Mike (5 May 2006). "New on DVD". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  3. ^ Variety Staff (31 December 1990). "Delicatessen". Variety. Penske Business Media. Archived from the original on 3 August 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  4. ^ Yeovil, Jack (1 January 2000). "Delicatessen Review". Empire. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  5. ^ Maslin, Janet (5 October 1991). "Review/Film Festival; Please, How Many Lentils for Your Musical Saw?". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  6. ^ "Delicatessen (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Delicatessen Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 19 July 2018.

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