Juliette Binoche is a film goddess. That we know from her 86-plus movie credits in which her luminous presence — think Garbo — is but a point of departure for a vast range of fascinating performances.
But did you know she makes a mean omelet?
You’ll learn that while watching La Binoche, as Eugénie, an outstanding French cuisinière, who turns a perfect three-egger from pan-to-plate with a flick of the wrist. That simple fare, we learn while watching her boss/boyfriend/”grande bouffe” Dodin Bouffant (Benoît Magimel) inhale it, is best eaten with a soup spoon. That’s correct, The Taste of Things informs us that French people use soup spoons for eating omelets.
Eugénie is Dodin’s cook; he, in turn, is as intoxicated by her subtle aroma as a woman as her mesmerizing choreography in the kitchen. For director Trần Anh Hùng’s The Taste of Things (a rapturous movie’s rather flat English title) opens with a dance sequence for pots, pans, steam heat, and beurre blanc that would make Williams-Sonoma proud. No clattering, no dropping, no spilling, no burning. All is calm and quiet in this 19th Century food universe. The best part of Taste‘s long sequences of cooking porn is … it’s a movie … so … no one has to wash the dishes!
Meeting Juliette Binoche at a reception hosted by her talent agency, CAA (where, yes, the post-screening repast was poulet-roti and pommes de terre), was a dream for a longtime fan. A deeply conservative film, “Taste” hearkens a bygone era in which chivalry ruled and multiculturalism had not made its vexing arrival in France. It was also a time, it seems, when eating gobs of saturated fat didn’t make a dent in peoples’ health. Ms. Binoche, in q/a after her film, offered the most useful commentary of the evening. Targeting the audience’s menfolk, she advised, “If you want to seduce a woman, cook for her!”
Dance critic Debra Levine, founder/editor/publisher of arts●meme, loves movies.