Audrey Tautou's three year break from her mainstream outing as Coco Chanel in Coco Avant Chanel has been almost torturous, for there is no modern actress--French or otherwise--with as much charisma and natural beauty. It never seems to matter what role she is inhabiting as she can make any character seem interesting. In co-directors Stéphane Foenkinos and David Foenkinos' Delicacy (based on David Foenkinos' novel of the same name), Tautou is showcased at her best: As a vulnerable, uncertain widow unsure if she can trust that true love is possible for a second time in her life.
Nathalie Kerr (Tautou) has had the rare privilege of finding the love of her life in François (Pio Marmaï), a man who shares her every passion and desire. As the film opens with a long shot of Nathalie serenely walking down a cobble-stoned road to make her way to a cafe, the self-possessed pacing of the film is established. When she finally arrives at the cafe, we see her walk past François, who we assume Nathalie has not met yet. When she sits down, we hear François run through all of the possible drinks she could order in his mind. He promises himself that if she orders an apricot juice, he will talk to her. Of course, this is the exact beverage she chooses. Later, when Nathalie is leaving the cafe, François follows her out and grabs her by the arm to kiss her. It is then that we realize they are celebrating the anniversary of the day they met each other.
With their relationship at its strongest, François proposes to Nathalie, using his key ring to slip on her finger as an engagement ring. Once they are married, Nathalie gets a job at a firm specializing in Swedish products, largely, it would appear, because of the Director of Operations', Charles (Bruno Todeschini), attraction to her. Nathalie is able to ignore this glaring fact until François is hit by a car while going for a run and Charles is allowed the opportunity to tactlessly make his move on the now grieving widow.
As Nathalie deals with a new life that excludes the person who made it worth living, she is forced to bluntly tell Charles that she may never be capable of being with someone again, but if she was, it definitely would not be with him. Reluctantly, Charles accepts her feelings, still furthering her advancement within the company by promoting her and putting her in charge of an important project that requires her to oversee a group of both Swedish and French employees. One of the Swedes, Markus Lundell (François Damiens), is especially shy and cautious around Nathalie. So it comes as a huge shock to him when, one day--out of nowhere--Nathalie rises from the chair in her office and kisses him. For Markus, it is a kiss of death, causing him to become completely and utterly consumed with the thought of her.
When Nathalie acts as though nothing has happened between them, Markus confronts her about it. She apologizes and explains that she was daydreaming when he walked in that day, and wasn't conscious of her actions at the time. Not willing to just let the incident pass, Markus asks Nathalie to let him take her to dinner. He promises that if she still wants to forget about the kiss after their date, then he will never mention it again. To Markus' delight, Nathalie agrees. Just as surprised by the date as Markus, Nathalie finds that she is actually enjoying herself at dinner. She even shares personal details of her past that she never would have considered sharing with anyone else (e.g. her obsession with Pez when she lived in the United States as a child).
In spite of their undeniable compatibility, Nathalie is not one for rushing into something just because it is the first time in three years that she has felt any kind of emotion for a man other than François. Mirroring the process of bereavement itself, Delicacy can feel drawn out at times, but, ultimately, every plot point has a purpose: To make Nathalie's ability to move on seem more authentic.