Film Review: The Taste of Things

FIFTY+SA Arts Reviewer, Dave Bradley, shares his thoughts on the French historical romantic drama film, The Taste of Things.

French-Vietnamese filmmaker Trần Anh Hùng’s simply gorgeous period drama is known by many titles, and is also inspired by a character created by Swiss author Marcel Rouff in 1924, but you really don’t need to know any of that to fully appreciate this lovely, lyrical epic.

Eugénie (Juliette Binoche) and Dodin (Benoît Magimel) live on a French country estate back in 1889, and both are introduced in a wonderfully elaborate (and hunger-inducing) sequence where they lovingly prepare an extravagant (and boozy) meal for five old friends. This curtain-raising opener goes on for more than 17 minutes, but it never once gets dull, and so much is conveyed about the characters here that it’s completely necessary.

Cook Eugénie and famed gourmand Dodin are surprisingly modern: they’re long-term romantic partners, and very much love and respect each other, but they’re not married (!!!). They live in separate rooms in the large house, but Dodin frequently “visits” her at night, which is a set-up they’ve always found mutually satisfying, but change is coming and, suddenly, the clock might well be ticking.

Juliette and Benoît are pretty much perfection here, and surely director Hung cast them due to the fact that they had a five-year relationship offscreen (they have a daughter too), which means that there’s already a certain warmth and ease between the pair. They’re matched, as well, by Galatea Bellugi as Dodin’s trusted assistant Violette, and Bonnie Chagneau-Ravoire (in her first film) as Pauline, Violette’s young niece and already a prodigy in the “culinary arts”.

It also must be noted AGAIN just how much European movies differ from US blockbusters. Where else could the luminous Binoche (who recently turned 60) ever be allowed to show her sensual and sexy side, and two ‘older’ people be depicted as happily enjoying active intimate lives?

In an American pic they’d have to be punished!

4 out of 5 STARS

The Taste Of Things is now screening in selected cinemas


We would like to acknowledge the Kaurna people as the custodians of the lands and waters of the Adelaide region.

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