Foodstuff: Film for Foodies
September 15, 2023
I recently attended the Telluride Film Festival and saw a total of 12 films in five days, gorging myself, figuratively speaking, on everything from comedy to drama and documentary shorts to very (very) long, fictitious fantasy flicks.
So, what does this have to do with food?
Specifically, I wanted to carve out time to see “The Taste of Things,” a French foodie film lauded by critics at the Cannes Film Festival and directed by Tran Anh Hùng, starring Juliette Binoche and her former real-life paramour, Benoit Magimel. Hùng was awarded Best Director at Cannes for this film, and after enjoying such a beautifully shot, golden-hued movie for more than two hours, it was easy to see why. I ate it up with a spoon.
The synopsis reads, “The relationship between Eugenie, an esteemed cook, and Dodin, the gourmet she has been working for over the last 20 years. Growing fonder of one another, their bond turns into a romance and gives rise to delicious dishes that impress even the world’s most illustrious chefs. When Dodin is faced with Eugenie’s reluctance to commit to him, he decides to start cooking for her.”
If you love food, this brief explanation doesn’t even scratch the cutting board’s surface of how much you’re going to enjoy devouring this film. It begins with an exquisite, 40-minute scene of cooking. Cooking! Barely any dialogue, just a gorgeous woman plucking heads of lettuce from the ground, basting things with butter, searing aromatics and racks of meat, and creating from scratch a crawfish vol au vent that literally made the audience audibly moan in the tiny, 168-seat Nugget Theater on Telluride’s main drag.
The romance between Binoche’s Eugenie and Magimel’s Dodin has a slow burn but also a fascinating familiarity, which the TFF audience learned stemmed from a years-long partnership between the two, who share a daughter but had barely spoken before filming began, according to a fascinating post-film Q&A with Hùng. Joining the director onstage was legendary French chef Pierre Gagnaire, a multiple Michelin star-awardee who acted as a culinary consultant on the film. Another fun fact: An astounding 40 pounds of meat was used to shoot takes of the opening scene, the waste of which was douloureux or “painful” for Chef Gagnaire, who mostly spoke French with Telluride Film Festival moderator, Annette Insdorf. Hùng made sure to explain that as much food as possible was saved, and “the cast and crew ate very well for every meal” during shooting.
And to all of my food fanatics here in the Roaring Fork Valley: If you’d like to eat very well, figuratively and literally, then you’re in luck. “The Taste of Things” will premiere in Aspen during Aspen Film’s Filmfest 2023 (running this year from Sept. 19-24), playing at the Aspen Film Isis Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 4 p.m. Also of note, Aspen Film has teamed up with French Alpine Bistro as a community partner for this offering, and the restaurant will debut a special menu in honor of the film. So if you’re craving something to satisfy your hunger following the flick (And you most certainly will be, I promise), you can head over to the cozy basement bar and treat yourself, a la française.
Enjoy the show, and bon appétit!
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