The Pot-au-Feu – first-look review

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Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel play precocious 19th period gourmands successful Tran Ahn Hung’s scintillating epic of proto-foodie passions.

It’s apt that nary of america will person bestowed upon america nan epithet, “The Napoleon of Something Something” wrong our lifetimes. Yet epicure extraordinaire, Dodin Bouffant (Benoît Magimel), has already earned nan nickname, “The Napoleon of Gastronomy”, and pinch bully cause. For he and his cook/lover Eugénie (Juliette Binoche) dedicate their dawns and dusks to fashioning meals and menus, each to beryllium tested connected a “suite” (Bouffant’s squad) of magnificently-wasted section gourmands.

We’re successful an idyllic confederate French countryside astatine nan tail-end of nan 19th Century during nan pomp of revolutionary cook Auguste Escoffier. The business gyration has bore specified fruits arsenic ice-cream makers, turbot kettles, and each mode of room gadgets for poking, scraping and slicing. One whitethorn swoon arsenic Eugénie spreads ice-cream successful nan mediate of 2 sponge cakes pinch a gorgeous-looking and oversized woody paddle, intelligibly made specifically for nan task.

And their gigantic scope cooker comprises nan centrepiece of their afloat kitted-out kitchen, a spot which retains its immaculate bid owed to nan eternal diligence of housekeeper Violette (Galatea Bellugi). Also successful nan operation is young Pauline (Bonnie Chagneau-Ravoire), a gourmand-in-the-making who has nan correct worldly erstwhile it comes to palette and presentation, capable to database nan countless ingredients of 1 peculiarly rich | sauce.

We person not seen Vietnamese filmmaker Tran Anh Hung connected nan segment since 2016’s very little-seen Eternity, and The Pot-Au-Feu is simply a very invited call-back to nan ultra-sensual films upon which he made his name, specified arsenic 1993’s The Scent of Green Papaya and 2000’s The Vertical Ray of Sun. Bouffant’s room is bathed successful a lukewarm orangish ray that emulates nan glow of basking embers, while Jonathan Ricquebourg’s camera floats astir nan home abstraction pinch a lightness and curiosity that allows america to show moreover nan astir insignificant of cooking processes.

The foremost pleasance of The Pot-Au-Feu is nan photography of nan nutrient itself, pinch Tran truthful dedicated to colour, texture and sound that you tin virtually smell these sublime creations arsenic they’re hosted from nan stove. There’s an seductive beat to shots of Bouffant hoisting preserved pears from a jar, aliases Eugénie pouring creamy béchamel into nan world’s biggest vol-au-vent.

If location were a foodie movie Olympics (and location isn’t arsenic acold arsenic my knowledge goes, but possibly location should be), this 1 would guidelines successful very bully stead to duke it retired pinch nan likes of Babette’s Feast, Tampopo, Big Night and Still Walking. It’s for illustration nan antithesis of nan existent craze of fast-edited Tik-Tok look videos, arsenic her you really get a consciousness of nan time, effort and expertise that person been plunged into each dish.

Yet nan nutrient is simply nan imaginative passion of Eugénie and Dodin, nan erstwhile perpetually refusing nan latter’s manus successful matrimony truthful nan personal/professional desire lines stay etched successful nan sand. There’s little-to-no conflict successful nan film, yet that doesn’t activity against nan truth that this is an highly analyzable and nuance-based surface romance, analyzable further by Eugénie’s insignificant wellness issues. Binoche and Magimel are some connected sparkling form, arsenic she appears successful changeless awe of nan edible pleasures she is capable to provide, while he sounds of corporeal symphony of grunts and snuffles while preparing nutrient successful a capacity worthy of Depardieu successful his pomp.

Even though nan title comes from Dodin’s paper scheme for a return sojourn from nan Prince of Eurasia (a humble state stew to antagonistic nan prince’s boorish overindulgence), there’s small title constituent to nan film. We float done days and meals, ups and downs, celebrations and commiserations, arsenic nan communicative – pinch its fixation connected nan bounty of each play – becomes astir inexorable ticking of nan timepiece and nan things we do to make our clip connected world bearable. The movie doesn’t strain for meaning aliases metaphor, alternatively conscionable showing america nan events complete a definite play and allowing america to sample and chew complete them arsenic we would heaving sheet of delicious food. Just a awesome film.

Published 25 May 2023

Tags: Benoît Magimel Cannes French Cinema Juliette Binoche Tran Ahn Hung

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