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The Taste of Things

Farhad Dalal
Farhad Dalal
4 Star popcorn reviewss


A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach but what about a way to a woman’s heart? The Oscar season is in its final leg and with the gala event scheduled for later today, I thought of watching and reviewing the final film from the Top 15 Foreign Language films nominated this year(which were further reduced to Top 5 later on). With that, I finished watching the new French film The Taste Of Things which was France’s Official Submission to the Academy Awards this year. Now the decision of picking this film over Anatomy Of A Fall might be a debatable one, but the title here was the star attraction for me, that instantly gave me an impression of the film being about exquisite food and love, a genre that isn’t tapped into often. We have briefly seen this in films lile Chocolat but I feel one of the purest forms of love is that of food, particularly when you cook for the person you love, something that is thearapeutic and gives you immense satisfaction. This itself offers an endless canvas to explore on celluloid through some delicately flavoured dishes of love that would auger you to feel the love between characters. So then, does The Taste Of Things manage to impress, let’s find out.

Story & Screenplay

Set in 1889, The Taste Of Things follows the story of a gourmand, Dodin residing with his personal cook and lover Eugune, as they share a long history of gastronomy through an undying platonic bond of love. The story here is refreshingly good with the right amount of ingredients that will make you fall in love with the characters through the food that they cook. The immense detailing that is integrated in the recipes that are carried out add to the delectable and mouth watering journey that you share with the characters so much so, that you are invested in their journeys that also features a major tragedy. The screenplay standing at about 130 odd minutes is ethereal and delicately flavoured that makes you want to fall in love while gently evoking a sense of gastronomy through the food prepared that goes straight to your soul. There is a divine quality to the drama, something so pure that it equates the concept of preparing food with love in the most pious manner possible, thereby making it a splendid watch. This section will contain spoilers. 

The drama opens with the introduction of the principal characters featuring the gourmand, Dodin and his lover along with a couple of house helps who are shown to collectively prepare food, right from picking vegetables from their garden to adding the right ingredients and preparing some of the most delectable dishes for Dodin and his friends. This entire sequence that extends comfortably over 20 minutes, slowly sucks you into the drama through the thread of food while setting the theme of the drama just right. These characters are clearly the most passionate humans about food, and the love that transpires through it, and the writers do so well to explore this area. 

The proceedings are engaging and engrossing as you are further acquainted with the two principal characters of Eugene and Dodin, both lovers and living under the same roof for over 20 years without ever getting physical with each other. There is an immense amount of intimacy that arises through their common love for food and taste, wherein Dodin wants to marry Eugene whereas the latter just wishes their relationship to be as pure as their food. Eugene is also comfortable with the presence of Dodin even when she is at her most vulnerable state while Dodin knows his boundaries too. 

Given the time period that the drama is set in(and relevant even today), there is an undercurrent of patriarchy that is prevalent here wherein you see Eugene and her helpers in the kitchen for most of the times, while the men are at the dining table gorging on the food prepared by them. But this drama also offers a deconstructed side of patriarchy wherein the love for the individual takes over any of the rituals or practices of the society. So when Eugene is supposedly unwell given her frequent bouts of fainting, it is Dodin who takes care of her while preparing food for her, day in and day out. It is so beautiful to witness the power of love that transitions in different forms, with food being the mode of transition between Dodin and Eugene. This until tragedy strikes! 

The events leading to the final act almost provide a sort of an arc for Dodin who begins to detach himself from food after the loss of his love. The Autumn wedding itself turns out to be a representation of the art of letting go and starting afresh, something that Dodin learns the hard way. In Pauline, he finds some solace as he continues to mentor her even as he bitterly misses the presence of Eugene to complete his palate. 

The film does end with a lot of hope for Dodin while briefly taking the viewers on a flashback featuring Dodin and Eugene interacting with each other. On being asked by Eugene if he sees her as his wife or cook, he reluctantly replies with the latter, much to the delight of Eugene. This scene in itself represents the fleeting personalities of Eugene and Dodin – the former always takes pride in her skillset and prefers being called as a cook as opposed to be restricted as a ‘wife who cooks’. The latter is more inclined to Eugene being his wife, given his unconditional love for her but always wishes the best for her, and hence replies with an answer that he thinks would make her happy(and rightly so). This was the epitome of their relationship that comprised of mutual consent and immense respect and companionship that they shared with each other. The phrase of opposites attract was beautifully established here with the common thread being of food in a screenplay that was extremely well written in communicating the language of love through food!

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are conversational and extremely light on the palate while effectively communicating the core sentiments of the drama. The BGM is tender, often relying on the natural surroundings to aide the drama which primarily comprised of the sizzling stove on which the food was prepared or the subtle sounds of cutlery induced while eating the prepared food. And that for me was representative of the vibe of the drama in effectively communicating the intended emotions. The cinematography captures some stunning frames featuring the preparation of food although the end product was not shown, deliberately to create an image of it in the minds of the viewers. The editing is crisp and sharp. The costume department deserves a shoutout for designing attires of characters which were true to the era in which the drama was set in. Director Tran Anh Hung intrinsically creates a wonderful world while staying true to the theme of the film featuring food and garnishing it with characters who communicate the language of love through their medium. The direction is excellent here.



The performances are exquisite by the ensemble cast. Galatea Bellugi as Violette has her moments to shine. Bonnie Chagneau-Ra as Pauline is excellent and her innocence coupled with her ability to learn about food makes her character really sincere and earnest. The subtle shifts in her expressions while tasting food were the highlight of her character. Juliette Binoche as Eugene delivers a tender and heartfelt performance which was dignified with her demeanor. There is a gentle quality in her character along with a sense of honesty that reflects in scene featuring her preparing food, and it made for such a heartwarming watch. Benoit Magimel as Dodin is wonderfully understated in a character that has a plethora of emotions to play with owing to his character arc. There is a sense of warmth in his character while briefly showcasing his vulnerability only to get back on track, and these subtle shift of tones in his character was beautifully executed by him.


France’s Official Submission to the Academy Awards this year, The Taste Of Things is a delicately flavoured gourmet of love and food that makes for a delicious watch. My heart is full after watching this drama that is handled with such sensitivity and warmth. Highly Recommended from my end.

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