January 25, 2024

VIFF 2023 | The Cook, His Lover, and 'The Taste of Things'

"Happiness is continuing to desire what we already have."
Benoît Magimel Trần Anh Hùng | The Taste of Things (The Pot-au-Feu or La Passion de Dodin Bouffant) | VIFF 2023
Vancouver International Film Festival
VIFF 2023—Vietnamese-born French filmmaker Trần Anh Hùng embodies the remarkable romanticism of cooking, dining, and eating with and for someone you love in the sumptuously-made The Taste of Things (previously titled The Pot-au-Feu and known as La Passion de Dodin Bouffant in French). This period romance satiates the screen with the simmering passion of gastronomy through its expressive performances and culinary cinematography.

Starring real-life ex-lovers, Benoît Magimel and Juliette Binoche, who apparently had not been in significant contact since their breakup twenty years ago despite sharing a daughter, as nineteenth-century unmarried lovers in their autumn years, a gourmand restaurateur Monsieur Dodin and his long-time chef partner Eugénie, the film opens with an extended unbroken cooking sequence (one of many) recreating meal preparation in stunning detail that is purely and simply sublime in its careful execution and culinary craftsmanship. It's quite possibly one of the most French things ever filmed.

Trần makes The Taste of Things such a feast of the senses in full cinematic fashion. It's an intoxicating film of simmering emotions told with a tenderly delightful touch throughout. There's a strong passion for its treatment of food preparation in the true style of a classic French meal. Its blend of romance and cooking for someone you love is so expertly realized.

The Taste of Things screened at the closing gala of the 2023 Vancouver International Film Festival as part of the Special Presentations series.

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