Movie Review: ‘The Taste Of Things’

by | Feb 14, 2024 | Featured Post, Movie Reviews, Movies | 0 comments

Greetings again from the darkness. I do not cook and have never had an interest in learning to. Still, I do understand how some are drawn to it as an art form … creating new dishes and new flavors, while generating such pleasurable sensations across the palettes of others. It’s a passion like many professions (or hobbies), and it’s one that is best shared with others.

This is the first film from writer-director Anh Hung Tron since 2016, and he has adapted the popular novel, “The Passionate Epicure” by Marcel Rouff. An extended opening scene (30 plus minutes) features a camera weaving in and around the activities in a kitchen where a gourmet meal is being prepared. Chit-chat does not occur. These people know their work and go about preparing multiple dishes precisely, meticulously, and expertly. Specific timing is the only thing requiring spoken language. Despite this, we learn much about these folks.

Juliette Binoche (Oscar winner, THE ENGLISH PATIENT, 1996) portrays Eugenie, the cook to gourmet chef Dodin, played by Benoit Magimel. Dodin periodically takes leave to mingle with guests, while Eugenie finds pure joy in her task at hand. Two assistants Violette (Galatea Bellugi) and Pauline (Bonnie Chagneau-Ravoire) work efficiently and quickly. Pauline is young and relatively new to the kitchen, yet she possesses a preternatural taste palette and flavor instincts, while Violette is a long-trusted staffer. As viewers, we are in awe of the precision and coordinated efforts that go into preparing world class dishes.

As the film progresses, we learn Dodin has proposed marriage to Eugenie many times over the years. She has always turned him down, choosing instead their kitchen partnership as well as occasional evening soirees in her room (when the door is unlocked). This arrangement works for her and has made him famous in the culinary world. Love and respect exists between the two, and he worries about her too-frequent fainting spells and light-hearted moments. Their conversation one evening after work tells us all we (and they) need to know. As for their backstory, given Eugenie’s mentorship of Pauline, we can’t help but wonder if maybe Dodin had once recognized such rare talent in Eugenie some twenty years past.

This is a film, and these are performances, meant to be savored every bit as much as the dishes we see prepared and the garden Eugenie tends. It’s a delicate world that requires precise movements and commitment … just as any relationship. We can all strive to find the joy and satisfaction on display here, despite knowing that these types of connections will at some point lead to loss.

In theaters on February 14, 2024

David Ferguson
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