The Taste of Things

The Taste of Things
The Taste of Things
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In France at 1880s, this ingenious master of cooking turned his culinary charms to capture the affections of his beloved cook. The Taste of Things is a delicious film that nourishes the soul. Best Director prize-winner Trần Anh Hùng won this year’s 76th Cannes Film Festival with his artful creation of a gastronomic romance that will become a modern classic. It tells an engagingly poetic love story using clinking brass utensils and aromatic stews on the kitchen stove in a picturesque castle.

Later that night, Eugénie (Juliette Binoche) lines up different types of meat, fish and vegetables for an exclusive dinner. She signals her assistant Violette (Galatea Bellugi) to go put wood into the fire. They can only start when the fireplace gets hotter still. At Eugénie’s request, Violette has brought along young Pauline (Bonnie Chagneau-Ravoire). The girl moves around energetically and follows everything they do with great interest.

Dodin Bouffant (Benoît Magimel), France’s most famous chef, dashes in and out of the kitchen checking on their progress. He glances at Eugénie who tenderly massages the skin of a sturgeon before dressing it in sauce. People have arrived. Before serving starters she calls Violette forward with drinks first for the guests called apéritifs. Dodin has cocktails with friends in the sitting room then settles down at table for all those sumptuous dishes.

Eugénie sits with Violette and Pauline enjoying this wonderful meal as well together in one room off to one side next door; but Dodin’s dear companions wonder why she never joins them; don’t these beautiful women see how happy she is? Her joy now lies here at her post; satisfaction fills her heart to its depths each time it does. All these twenty odd years Dodin Bouffant has looked at her with longing, and he asks if his door will be open tonight. Eugénie’s coy reply kindles the fire of his desire for her. Dodin sighs heavily with anticipation. Why doesn’t she marry him? he asks again after so long.

The Taste of Things is a cinematic adaptation of the novel by Marcel Rouff which beautifully captures the essence of an amorous progression. Tran Anh Hung (The Scent of Green Papaya, Eternity), who is among one of the best directors in the world, puts up almost 20 minutes to depict Eugenie’s careful cooking and preparations as they serve as the beginning part of his opening act before Juliette Binoche plays in front.

Dodin is often called “the Napoleon of Gastronomy,” even though he constantly refutes this title given to him by friends, who also like to play around on this matter. Nothing less than perfection satisfies Dodin. Yet he is not a tough or overbearing boss either. She enjoys full confidence from Dodin who trusts her completely; both play roles that resemble those of caring tutors that teach their students how to perfect what is good enough for them.

Tran’s portrayal of Eugénie and Dodin as lovers will take your breath away; when it comes down to it, Dodin hesitates for a moment before entering her room and this creates tangible tension between them on screen; while many years ago such love was experienced between them but Eugénie remains steadfastly resolute towards any potential change in their relationship; He cooks while she helps out in the kitchen; these feelings have been shared by Eugénie should never change their chemistry concerning cooking; Their mutual brilliance must never be risked since together they are too good; But the refusal to formalize their coupledom status does not upset Dodin since it only makes him more resolute in winning the highest prize; Dodin can’t exist without Eugenie.

Trần takes care to frame his main characters as respected pillars of society. Dodin’s fame and expertise are shared by Eugénie. Their affair is not a secret. The supporting cast sees them as a team that cannot be separated, and they both contribute equally to their success. Through the years Dodin has followed Eugénie has made them both better in every sense. It is possible that these scenes may be lost amid the visual spectacle of cooking, but they must not be undervalued. This indicates an approval and respect for her.Eugénie walking through orchards, interacting with local farmers ,talking with Pauline’s parents etc shows that she is a good woman who many people would wish to have as their own daughter or sister.She is an outstanding lady deserving of Dodin’s intense love.

The Taste of Things had excellent cinematography, editing,and lighting.The chateau serves as a confined setting where Trần cleverly makes use of some overhead shots alongside tracking Steadicam to watch the characters in action.They will salivate when Eugenie and Dodin plate up dishes for Violette.This takes after her up and down winding stairs where gourmet greatness is brought out.Preping,serving,eating;no corners are cut.The candlelight recreates the entire experience.Therefore you can’t reset if scene components get spoiled.This isn’t easy because cast members eat meals as an important part of narrative progression.Next, Trần includes reaction shots from each delicious morsel touching the tongue giving overwhelming satisfaction which floods happy faces.His filmmaking acumen here is beyond extraordinary.

The Taste of Things was France’s entry into this year’s 96th Academy Awards.However, it really baffles one’s mind why it missed out on two key categories such as Best International Feature Film and Best Director(Tran). That was a big mistake.It will remain among those films whose smell will last long in cinematic history. Don’t watch on an empty stomach.

The Taste of Things, also known as La Passion de Dodin Bouffant and The Pot-au-Feu, is in French with English subtitles.Curiosa Films, Gaumont, France 2 Cinéma and Umedia produced the film.It will hit US cinemas on February 14th via IFC Films.Watch the trailer below.

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