JEAN-PIERRE JEUNET, MARC CARO
Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
France, 1991. Constellation, Union Générale Cinématographique, Hachette Première, Sofinergie Films, Sofinergie 2, Investimage 2, Investimage 3, La Fondation Gan pour le Cinéma, Victoires Productions. Screenplay by Gilles Adrien, Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, dialogue by Gilles Adrien. Cinematography by Darius Khondji. Produced by Claudie Ossard. Music by Carlos D’Alessio. Production Design by Marc Caro. Costume Design by Valerie Pozzo di Borgo. Film Editing by Herve Schneid.
The decidedly kooky stylings of Jean-Pierre Jeunet that audiences would come to love in Amelie were first experienced in this delightful film. A circus clown (Dominique Pinon comes to a derelict apartment building that contains a delicatessen at street level, hired to work as a handyman for the various desperate personalities who live on the floors above it. What he doesn’t know is that the butcher on the main floor deals with the residents’ financial strife by killing a stranger from time to time and using them for meat, and that while Pinon is fixing bed springs for a young Karin Viard or examining faulty pipes, he is being sized up for slaughter. This time, though, the butcher’s cello-playing daughter (Marie-Laure Dougnac) has fallen in love with the newcomer and wants to save him, deciding to finally stand up to her father by appealing to the city’s sewer-dwelling troglodytes to help her do so. It threatens to be annoyingly cute but it never is, and the gorgeous cinematography (which brought the great Darius Khondji to Hollywood for a few years) still looks dazzling. Highly stylized visuals and a beautifully memorable musical score are a huge attraction, but Jeunet’s work has a heart at its centre and keeps the film from being only a technical experience.
European Film Award: Best European Production Designer
Nomination: Young European Film of the Year