The Taste of Things by Anh Hung Tran [4/10]

French-Vietnamese director Anh Hung Tran’s The Taste of Things is a combination of a luscious love story and a luscious foodie film. Late 19th century gourmand of fame, Dodin, is played with huge passion and intimate physicality (we hear a lot of his breathing) by Benoît Magimel, and his world shifts with a challenge to cook for a local prince but also by his efforts to woo his 20-year kitchen cook, Eugénie, played by audience favorite Juliette Binoche. The film revolves around scene after kitchen scene of luxuriously filmed food preparation sessions, and I have to say there is abundant beauty, very much a treat for the French foodie fan, in these gorgeously filmed gourmand sequences. But the intoxicating ambience is badly served by the glacial script, stilted dialogue throughout, and Binoche’s superficial, beaming performance. The second half, marked as it is by the urgency of tragedy, works better than the first. Mark The Taste of Things as a visually appealing disappointment.

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