The Taste of Things (La passion de Dodin Bouffant) - Film Review

The Taste of Things (La passion de Dodin Bouffant) - Film Review


Posted 2024-04-22 by Jenfollow
Images © Curiosa Films, Gaumont

The Taste of Things is directed by Tran Anh Hung and stars Juliette Binoche and Benoit Magimel. One of the most acclaimed French films of recent times, it is a sensual ode to haute cuisine. It is 1885 and Eugenie, a peerless cook has spent two decades working for the renowned gourmet Dodin. Their gastronomic partnership has evolved into a romantic bond, and their culinary creations give rise to delicious dishes that astonish even the most esteemed chefs. Dodin has asked for Eugenie's hand in marriage, but she cherishes her independence and resists his desire to be her husband. In a poignant gesture, Dodin strives to express his love through the intimate act of cooking a meal for her, a move that signifies a departure from his usual role in their relationship. With a running time of 145 minutes and rated PG, The Taste of Things will be in Cinemas on 2 May 2024.

It's French, it's food, and it's phenomenal. The immediate response I had to the film as soon as it started screening - I loved every inch and ounce of the cinematography and perfect lighting that sculpted the scenes I was experiencing. I loved the period it was set in - I loved everything French about it - the kitchen, the utensils, the labour-intensive way everything was done as it was in the 'old days', the making of food, the attention to detail, the way the table is set, the feast cooked with love and care. Another thing that dawned on me immediately was the conversations. It made me a little nervous as I reflected inward for a fleeting moment - 'how would I fit in, with this company.' They had lengthy conversations about every little thing, giving generous amounts of time to express the way they felt about the food that was being prepared for them, in detail.

I could watch the whole film over again just to watch them preparing and cooking. Those beautiful huge copper pots, picking herbs and vegetables from the vegetable patch, the mortar and pestle, those lovely long timber tables, the milk baths for the fish - I can salivate all day thinking about those scenes. It was an overall experience of food, not just an image of food porn. This is definitely a film for those who can appreciate every subtle nuance about the scenes and the way it approaches the daily life of the period as closely as possible, and a whole film where the food predominantly takes the main stage.

There is no need for music in this film, and there was none to undermine every movement that created a symphony of its own, reliant on the comforting sounds of cooking, flurried and purposeful movements in the kitchen, and the conversations and experiences contained within the film. Eugenie (Juliette Binoche) has been working for Dodin (Benoit Magimel) for two decades and they have developed a romance that seems to take second place to their love of waking to each other, cooking together, and spending every moment together. Eugenie doesn't feel the need to make it official to feel any happier than she already is. Violette (Gelatea Bellugi) helps in the kitchen and has obviously been Eugenie's apprentice for a while as she deftly goes about getting all they need to get done. One day she brings in her niece Pauline (Bonnie Chagneau-Ravoire) as she's taking care of her for the day, and it's noticed that Pauline has a gift when it comes to appreciating all that she tastes, and everything she notices about food.

Binoche and Magime are a perfect pairing, representing a special kind of social and professional partnership that only happens between two people from the level of mutual affection and respect that comes from decades of contented conjugality. As Dodin puts it in the film, he reads the recipe and she creates the magic on the stove. She knows him so well, she expresses on the plate, every single thought he has about food. Binoche really does shine as she has a presence about her that makes everything engaging and watchable. Dodin's close friends, Rabaz (Emmanuel Salinger), Grimaud (Patrick D'Assumcao), Beaubois (Frederic Fisbach) and Magot (Jan Hammenecker) are well chosen as they each have their own tonality and temperament, balancing each of their personalities that projects a satisfying image, their appreciation for Eugenie's cooking obvious. They are an important part of Dodin's life. There is nothing phoney or fake about the food either - everything was real and prepared before your eyes. Needless to say, performances are on point and the young Bonnie as Pauline is one to watch, and very watchable as she chews beautifully through her food. Having said that, though taking a step back from the rest, Galatea as Violette has perfect timing and a splendid presence that completes the little family in that beautiful kitchen, and the film overall, which is a work of art in performance and gastronomy.

283899 - 2024-04-21 14:34:04


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