Here’s a fantastically shot film from that estimable film-maker Tran Anh Hung – but it surely’s in a style about which I’m agnostic, the “foodie” vein, wherein we’re purported to swoon over all of the countless gastronomic element and mouthwatering fare, and wherein meals tends to be considerably glibly offered as a metaphor for sharing, for household and for friendship. (A current dialog with a pal ended with him saying “foodie” movies aren’t any worse than the “filmie” movies I roll over for, with their countless love-letter-to-the-cinema pictures of the projector beams within the darkness and well-loved film theatres poignantly closing after 80 years and many others. Honest sufficient: chacun à son goût.)
The Pot-au-Feu, starring Benoît Magimel and Juliette Binoche, set within the Belle Époque, is tailored by the director from the 1924 novel The Life and Ardour of Dodin-Bouffant, Gourmand by the creator, gourmand and boulevardier Marcel Rouff. Magimel performs Dodin, a passionate gourmand dwelling in some model, partly primarily based on the legendary real-life gastronome Jean Brillat-Savarin. Dodin just isn’t working a restaurant – he’s simply wealthy sufficient to do nothing all day however take into consideration and eat top-quality meals, and is trying fairly svelte on it.
Dodin’s experience is understood far and extensive and he has a cook dinner, Eugénie, performed by Binoche, who’s equally admired, and with whom Dodin just isn’t so secretly in love. She brilliantly interprets each demand that Dodin lays down for her: like him, she has an instinctive, inventive appreciation of the style, texture, composition and perfume of meals, the drama and poetry inherent in the best way it needs to be offered and consumed, and its central significance to civilised existence: the tiresome query of those that can’t afford to eat like this, or very a lot in any respect, just isn’t talked about and the absence of piety might be for the most effective.
There are lots of static pictures of those dishes being ready and of Binoche and Magimel duly appreciating them, inviting our drooling in any respect this refined sensory luxurious. I blasphemously longed for a single 25-minute shot of Magimel and Binoche attempting to obtain the Deliveroo app on to their smartphones with solely a 3G sign.
Dodin is within the behavior of inviting a bunch of grand male mates spherical for normal spectacular dinners, whereas Eugénie shyly eats on her personal within the kitchen with the maid and the maid’s 13-year-old niece, who’s exhibiting a prodigious expertise for delicacies herself. One night, a pompous international nobleman invitations Dodin and his friend-group for dinner and tries to impress him with an absurdly over-lavish and unsubtle megafeast. Feeling compelled to return the favour, Dodin decides to ask this aristocrat again to his, however intends to serve merely the “Pot-au-Feu” – radically, inspirationally easy and trustworthy rustic fare. (Once more some blasphemy from me: I discovered myself remembering and preferring Anton Ego’s admiration for the signature dish within the Pixar film Ratatouille.) However there’s something else – poor Eugénie seems to be in poor health and Dodin could have to arrange for her an final pot-au-feu of pure honest love.
There’s attraction and delicacy right here and Magimel and Binoche carry out impeccably, although I wasn’t completely positive they go collectively because the components of a love story. As a foodie movie, it has an incredible deal to advocate it and I discovered it partaking, although maybe as a Dr Jekyll to the Mr Hyde of Marco Ferreri’s La Grande Bouffe. Maybe there will likely be a 230-minute director’s minimize quickly with a marathon washing-up scene on the finish.