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Originally published Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 3:32 PM

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Movie review

'Delicacy': a vehicle for the quirky charms of Audrey Tautou

"Delicacy," a new film directed by David and Stéphane Foenkinos and starring Audrey Tautou, has some plausibility problems, writes Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald, but Tautou is so captivating you almost don't need a movie to go with her face. At the Harvard Exit, in Seattle.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars

'Delicacy,' with Audrey Tautou, François Damiens, Bruno Todeschini, Mélanie Bernier, Joséphine de Meaux, Pio Marmaï. Directed by David and Stéphane Foenkinos, from a screenplay by David Foenkinos, based on his novel "La Delicatesse." 108 minutes. Rated PG-13 for some strong language. In French with English subtitles. Harvard Exit.

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When you have Audrey Tautou's face to look at, you almost don't need a movie to go with it — it's nearly enough just to stare at the "Amélie" star's enormous brown eyes, apple-round mouth and bouncing dark curls, each of which has enough charm to inspire its own fan club. "Delicacy," a wistful romantic comedy based on David Foenkinos' novel and directed by Foenkinos with his brother Stéphane, isn't entirely satisfying, but Tautou makes it work; it's a rough draft of a movie, polished by quirky star power.

Tautou plays Nathalie, a young Parisian who, in the film's opening moments, enchantingly finds her true love, François (Pio Marmaï). (Talk about meeting cute: They bond over apricot juice in a picture-perfect cafe — and his adorable movie-star stubble could well inspire a club of its own.) But Nathalie and François are not this movie's story: He dies in an accident just minutes into "Delicacy" (three years into their marriage), and Nathalie is left to grieve. Fast-forward another three years and she's ready to love again, but with an unexpected partner: Markus (François Damiens), a sweet but shlubby Swede at the office, equipped with an array of beige sweaters and perpetually apologetic expressions.

It's never entirely clear just why Nathalie is drawn to Markus (was he just in the right place at the right time?), nor does the behavior of those around them always make sense. But "Delicacy" scoots along nicely on the idiosyncratic charm of its stars. Tautou, strolling through the office like Alice in a strangely neutral-toned Wonderland, keeps all eyes on her, but Damiens and his skill at physical comedy (he knows how to make standing in front of a closed door hilariously funny) fumbles his way into our hearts. Ultimately, it's impossible to resist the spectacle of Tautou, once sad, falling in love: When she finally, slowly smiles, in a lovely final shot, you never want it to end.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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