Last night we watched a quiet little French movie called Haute Cuisine on DVD. It was based on a memoir by Daniele Mazez-Delpeuch, who was a cook for President Mitterand. Mostly it was a film about food; Hortense Laborie was hired to cook meals like the president's grandmother cooked (though like a reviewer somewhere I couldn't imagine that 'plain' cooking even in France would really resemble the food we saw in this movie. Meals like salmon wrapped in cabbage and mushrooms and then with a pastry round it. Or fancy cheese dishes.
Apart from showing friction with the main kitchen (she and her sous-chef were working alone in the President's kitchen, preparing meals for him and his guests) and some frustrations over the food when the president had to go on a diet and fat was restricted, there was not a lot more to this movie than the food shown lovingly. (Which is not to say we didn't like it - we did a lot. I like movies where not a lot happens.) It was interspersed with a following time where she worked on an Antartic oil rig or similar, with just men to cook for. And a film crew were trying to get a documentary of her. The latter in particular seemed an unnecessary addition.
This was a film with sub-titles which meant I did have to watch it carefully, and even then the lighting often means it is hard to pick up all the words. Two little things happened at the end that surprised us - - not really part of the plot. The Antarctic men, as she was leaving them, sang Auld Lang Syne in French to her. And then we were told she was off to New Zealand to grow a truffle farm. Which apparently did happen in real life, though she apparently doesn't live here any more.
The main stars were Catherine Frot who seems to be highly thought of and certainly the part, Arthur Dupont and Jean D'Ormesson, who was aged 86 and in his first movie role (I did read that this was an in-joke for the French as he was a journalist who was something of a bete-noir for Mitterand).
Gentle, warm film with little in the way of plot but plenty in the way of charm.
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