The hypnotic, soothing nourishment of cooking seasonal food in the French countryside.
Placed in the hands of an award-winning director and the videography of such scenes of artistry in the kitchen become appetite whetting. Such is the case in the new French film The Taste of Things, or as it was originally titled in France Pot-au-Feu and then changed to La Passion de Dodin Bouffant. So if you have heard any of these titles and are wondering if they are the same film, they are. Described endlessly as the 21st century’s Babette’s Feast (a must-see and award winning film released in 1988 in its own right, but the one thing missing that this film today has is it is set in France).
The Taste of Things stars Juliette Binoche as Eugenie, and tells the story of the “relationship between Eugenie, an esteemed cook, and Dodin, the gourmet she has been working for over the last 20 years. Growing fonder of one another, their bond turns into a romance and gives rise to delicious dishes that impress even the world’s most illustrious chefs. When Dodin is faced with Eugenie’s reluctance to commit to him, he decides to start cooking for her.” This is must-see for foodies and Francophiles, but most definitely for those who appreciate quality films and our Francophiles.
Directed and written by Anh Hung Tran, the film is inspired by the novel of a similar name by Marcel Rouff, published in the 1920s. Now I took the time to read this book, a petite book, but enjoyable as it introduces us to Bouffant after Eugenie’s death. I share this because the book begins with this signifiant plot detail, but also because this film is imagined by Anh Hung Tran who was inspired by the novel, but the novel never tells the story that is portrayed on screen. Rather the ending of the movie is where the novel begins which means Hung Tran had freedom to convey this beautiful love story of two people and their shared love for food in a way that could not be contradicted by interpretations of the novel. Hung Tran has actually imagined what Eugenie and Bouffant’s life was like before the novel begins to tell its story, and so based on the inferences and praise shared in the novel, puts them on the screen for us to savor as it is Bouffant’s adoration of Eugenie that is talked about with great homage.
The Taste of Things starring Juliette Binoche as Eugenie, the cook for the named Napoleon of Cuisine Dodin Bouffant, who is played by Benoît Magimel (the two actors once were in a relationship nearly 20 years ago, and this is their first film together since the relationship ended), is written and directed by Anh Hung Tran who had Binoche specifically in mind for the leading role, as well as hoped Magimel would say yes to the role of Bouffant. Thankfully he did, and the former couple’s chemistry is beautiful on screen.
I have gushed and gushed about this new French film to TOP Tier Members since I first learned of it in September and then had the opportunity to watch it in October at the Bend Film Festival. The BendFilm Team selected the film sharing, “It’s not just the food that’s exquisite in this film; every frame is hypnotic. The passion for food and being in the kitchen, and the understated but beautiful love story, come through loud and clear.”
The Taste of Things will premiere this Friday February 9th here in the states, so look for it in a theater near you this weekend and for the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday. A delicious film to watch and savor with a loved one.
~Be sure to tune in to episode #374 where I share more detail about why I highly recommend this film.