The Taste of Things review — Delicious to see

Directed by Anh Hung Tran | Written by Anh Hung Tran and Marcel Rouff | 135 min | ▲▲▲△△

This is a film about food. If it pleases you watching people prepare delicious-looking breakfasts and dinners in a beautiful, sun-touched kitchen, this is a movie for you.

Though in perhaps a less important way, it’s also about the people making the food: Dodin Bouffant (Benoît Magimel), a gourmet chef and his beloved cook, Eugénie (Juliette Binoche, who in RL used to date Magimel). She’s the one thing he loves more than cooking food, but she prefers their relationship to be in the kitchen and be slightly less committed. This isn’t a film that relishes much in the way of drama. Like I said, it’s about food.

A more vulgar reviewer might call this film “foodie porn,” which feels far too crass for the displays of cooking and eating The Taste of Things provides. This is more like an unintentional sequel to Babette’s Feast, without the class examination. The Taste Of Things is far too interested in luxuriating in sounds of spring and summer in the garden, the hiss and steam off the pot on the stove, and the sizzle of fresh chicken in the pot, to be concerned with anything as gauche or freighted with conflict as class.

It is somewhat concerned about aging. We learn the 50-something Dodin and Eugénie have worked together for 20 years, and Dodin repeatedly asks Eugénie to marry him without much of a positive response. Both of them clearly enjoy what they do, proud of their experience. “One cannot be a gourmet before forty,” says Dodin. The film also samples the taste of grief, though not to the exception of other more ebullient, complex flavours.

I know there will be those who adore The Taste of Things all out of proportion. I’m not one of them, but then I’m hopeless in the kitchen. It certainly is a sumptuous looking picture, though I’d argue its pleasures remain there on the surface.

One thing to be sure: have a meal before you buy your ticket.

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.