Film Review | La Passion de Dodin Bouffant / The Taste of Things


Inside a kitchen

Perfect light, scenography, humble appreciation and respect for the kitchen; poetically working in wonderful symmetry, grace, civility, devotion and love.

The passion of Dodin Bouffant”: dear to my flesh [home]

 A viewer offers a collective impression, reflection and sensation.

Didactic, this film reminds us that traditional French cuisine has earned its letters of nobility because simple people have devoted time, care but also and above all a lot of love to it.

This is all that is offered to us by both impeccable staging and the acting of the ‘cast’. And in doing so, what a joy to return to our childhood memories when our grandmother was busy in the kitchen…

Let it be said: dwelling on the skill of making a dish cannot be boring. Likewise, considering that cooking is a matter of generosity and humility can only annoy the disgruntled.” – Marie Carbajal

The passion of Dodin Bouffant”: dear to my flesh

Paraphrased and far less eloquent summary of the review by François Lévesque, “LEDEVOIS, November 10, 2023

Winner of the Best Director Award at Cannes, The Passion of Dodin Bouffant, by Trân Anh Hùng, proves to be as rich on a gourmet level as of feelings.

Around 1885 Dodin Bouffant, a provincial gentleman, renowned gourmet, as well as having one of the best – if not the best – restaurants in the country, pairs the civility of gentlemen’s lifestyle, as perfectly synchronistic with the humility of a devoted woman in the kitchen. Yet, Dodin’s remarkable mastery of the culinary arts is nothing compared to the innate and other-worldly gifts that Eugénie, his cook and more importantly, the love of his life, masters. Eugénie, also in love with Dodin,  is clear and independent, steadfastly refusing the marriage proposals he offers. 

Of course, the merging of gastronomic and romantic appetites is a repeating theme, as the stomach and the heart have long been associated with cinematic comedy as well as drama.

The Passion of Dodin Bouffant is a solar drama. Under the precise Director of Photography of Jonathan Ricquebourg, the numerous scenes in the kitchen are bathed in a golden, vaporous light rendering visual poetry with the grace and sensitivity of a master oil painting. 

In the main roles, Benoît Magimel and Juliette Binoche share a moving complicity; they once formed a couple and share a child together in real

“One dish too many”

Of course, not everything works in the scenario.

The romantic part, a 20-year complicity looking like a hesitant waltz against a greedy background, is on point. Yet absent the sentimental and historical appreciation, the intense culinary focus might overwhelm or bore. In addition, the subplot concerning the preparations of a future meal for some random passing foreign prince remains unfinished and is similar to that extra dish which sometimes spoils a fine meal.

Not to spill the beans, but to tease your senses, and alert your appetite, The Passion of Dodin Bouffant (Also called A Taste of Things) provides a truly pleasant impression of emotional and visual satiation, as well as a twist for contemplation. Peek at the trailer below.

★★★*** 1/2

Sentimental drama by Trân Anh Hùng. With Benoît Magimel, Juliette Binoche, two stunning young actresses, Galatea Bellugi, and Bonnie Chagnneau-Ravore, topping it off with Emmanuel Salinger. The film was shot in an actual historic castle in Segré-en-Anjou Bleu, a commune in the Loire Valley.

Personal note: Perhaps sensitive for vegetarians. At times I cringe even as my vegetables are crushed in the juicer. See the interview below with Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel.