I love to cook and I love to watch movies about the love cooking. And The Taste of Things is probably the most delicious movie about that love since the Oscar winning film Babette’s Feast. From director Anh Hung Tran (The Scent of Green Papaya) the film stars Juliette Binoche as a Eugénie, a chef who prepares drool-worthy dishes with and for famed gourmet Dodin Bouffant (Benoît Magimel, The Piano Teacher) and his epicure friends to savor.  Set somewhere in France in the late 19th century, a whole lot of the movie takes place in the kitchen of a beautiful country mansion. But it isn’t really about the food. It’s a beautiful romance situated around a shared passion. 

Eugénie has worked for Dodin for decades, preparing his meals with her helpers in the kitchen. And they have a warm mutual regard for one another. As the film starts Dodin is in the kitchen, too, watching and joining her and her kitchen assistants in preparing a feast that he and his friends will enjoy. There is very little dialogue, and you can practically taste and smell the dishes. 

Later after the triumphant meal, Dodin asks if he may visit Eugénie in her room later. It’s clear that this has been going on for some time and he’s in love with her. He’s even asked her to marry him and been turned down. But after she has a few fainting spells and the doctor can’t say what is wrong, her attitude thaws a bit and their romance takes the foreground. He cooks for her and tends to her and she lets him, probably for the first time in their relationship. And it is beautiful. 

I think it certainly helps to be a foodie/cooking lover to truly appreciate this film. The first half hour is essentially a cooking demonstration. And throughout the movie the food preparation is lovingly and  gorgeously shot.  And all I could think of while watching is: “I would die to be eating with them.” I can see how at least some of these scenes could bore non-foodies, but The Taste of Things  is so much more than a cooking flick. It’s a beautiful love story about people who use food as a connection. And the performances are wonderful! Binoche and Magimel were in a relationship a couple of decades ago and share a daughter, but prior to shooting the film had not spoken for years, and yet they give have amazing on-screen chemistry. I highly recommend this film to food and romance lovers!

Be sure to have some dinner reservations at your favorite French restaurant for after viewing.

In limited release.  

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