qathet film festival 2024
The Taste of Things
Sun Mar 3 — 1:30 pm
The Taste of Things is the year’s most sensuous love story, where food and passion collide in a luminous film about affection. The languid 19th-century French romance stars Juliette Binoche as an ailing cook and Benoît Magimel as her devoted lover. Luxuriantly produced and beautifully observed by writer-director Trân Anh Hùng, the film layers subtle social-status humour alongside the sensory onslaught. The film is about the “how,” not the “what”. You get to know people best by understanding what obsesses them, the activities that interest them.
An unassuming culinary drama on the surface, Trân Anh Hùng’s The Taste of Things is a rhapsodic romance and one of the year’s most scintillating films. Set in the French countryside in the late 19th century, it follows famous gastronome Dodin Bouffant (Benoît Magimel) and his live-in cook, Eugénie (Juliette Binoche), who cooks both for him and with him, depending on the occasion. The actors, who were once married in real life, put on a clinic of passionate performance, deepening each scene and interaction far beyond your ordinary romantic drama.
Since it premiered and won a directing prize at the Cannes Film Festival last May, the film has been described as a gastronome’s delight, a worthy heir to the food-porn throne occupied by classics like Babette’s Feast and Eat Drink Man Woman. Despite its generally frictionless flow from meal to meal, its showstopping delicacies and subtly comical asides, The Taste of Things is haunted, from the start, by an awareness of the passage of time. Eugénie’s own ailing health, her insistence on carrying on in the kitchen despite mysterious fainting spells, is a recurring reminder that nothing lasts forever, not yesterday’s meals or even tomorrow’s discoveries. Eloquently speaking the language of love through the art of cooking, one can’t help but be swept away by the warmth of its storytelling.