Circumstances of watching it: Various pressures have been stacking up for the past five years, all pointing towards the conclusion that I really needed to watch Delicatessen. Firstly, ID, the guy I went out with in 99, was completely obsessed with it. But his description of it made me think it was the kind of film I really wouldn't like, being as how I am on the squeamish side. So although he would have liked me to see it, I kept putting it off. Had the relationship lasted longer, I might well have been talked into it, but anyway.
The next thing that happened was that I saw Amélie in 2001 and fell utterly in love with it. However, because I am thick, I never understood why people kept talking about Delicatessen whenever I mentioned it. Until one day rysmiel pointed out to me that the two films have the same director, J-P Jeunet. Then there was still the issue of me expecting it to be too gory and horrific for my taste.
Of course, lethargic_man also loves Delicatessen. So, as well as being yet another reason why I absolutely had to see the film, he eventually talked me into it, on the grounds that although frightening and noir, it's not actually that gory. And it was lovely lethargic_man who got hold of a copy on DVD so that we could watch it when I was at his parents'.
I do not watch horror films or noir humour, as a rule, but in spite of it being not at all my thing, I liked Delicatessen a lot. This is genuinely black humour, rather than enjoying others' misfortune and using humour as an excuse. The actual onscreen violence is pretty minimal, and it's done with such a gentle touch that I was even able to see the humour of the running joke based around suicide, a topic about which I am usually hopelessly over-sensitive. And it brought out the normally extremely well buried side of my personality which enjoys being scared. (The rarity of this is the major reason that I don't watch horror films.)
The plot premise is deeper than it originally appears, with the post-apocalyptic background being alluded to very subtly but with enough glimpses provided of solid world-building and back story. It also works on the level of an exciting story, despite the surreality and sometimes outright silliness. The characters are extremely engaging, and part of the thrill of watching this was holding my breath and just willing for things to turn out right for the sympathetic ones. It's also absolutely hilarious, with just about every brand of humour mixed together in the perfect proportions. I really revelled in the continual puns and innuendos, both about meat and sex and sometimes both. (There's something a little odd about hearing lines of dialogue that ID used to quote at me incessantly, though!) And visually it's very effective.
So yeah, I feel enriched for having seen Delicatessen.