The Taste Of Others
Details: (M), 112 mins, France,
Synopsis: Jean-Jacques Castella is a successful suburban businessman, painfully aware of his inability to keep up with the fast changing times. He has no appreciation of the arts, until his wife Angelique drags him to a moving performance of Racine's "Berenice." Much to his surprise, he is overwhelmed by the power and beauty of the lead actress, Clara Devaux, who plays the Queen. He becomes so infatuated with her that he goes back to the play every night. Finally, these two polar opposites are forced together when Castella reluctantly tries to learn English for an important business deal and his English teacher turns out to be Clara.
Droll social satire in the vein of Woody Allen.
The story of a well-intentioned idiot amidst a callous world never dates. The Dinner Game, ended with the moral statement ‘think twice before you call anyone an idiot’. Agnes Jaoui’s The Taste of Others is less concerned with its moral outcome, but adopts a similar crowd-pleasing premise.
Castella (Jean-Pierre Bacri), a wealthy but childishly uncouth businessman, is reluctantly escorted to the theatre by his eccentric wife. He becomes instantly immersed when actress and English teacher Clara (Anne Alvaro) enters the stage, and an infatuation towards her grows.
The idiosyncrasies of these characters have been written so pedantically that they often border on caricatures. However, the fine ensemble cast works strongly within these limitations, especially Alvaro as the love-interest.
Unlike many romances’ flaw, the film is never over written or plotted, remaining lucid, and proudly traditional throughout. However, it may have benefited from tightening, as many of the characters repeat themselves, rather than grow with their actions.
The Taste of Others’ droll social satire and relaxed, non-imposing style are in the vein of Woody Allen, and Jaoui and his star Bacri have co-written an observant script, imbued with nuances and ironic dialogue that piercingly tap into quirks of recognisable speech.
Factory owner Jean-Jacques Castella, Jean-Pierre Bacri, is accompanied just about everywhere by his bodyguard, Moreno, Gerard Lanvin. Castella, a bit of a philistine, lives with his wife, Christiane Millet, a woman with appalling taste. His life is transformed when he reluctantly goes to the theatre to see a play in which his daughter has a small role; he's instantly smitten with the lead actress, Clara Delvaux, Anne Alvaro, who, as it happens, has also been teaching him English. While Castella hangs out with Clara and her arty crowd, Moreno meets barmaid Manie, Agnes Jaoui, a free spirit with whom he has little in common.
The Taste Of Others, the first film directed by actress Agnes Jaoui, who plays Manie, was an unexpected success in France last year; it won several awards and was tremendously popular with audiences. It's a dry comedy about the attraction of opposites, and the script, by Jaoui and Bacri (who appeared together in the Alain Resnais film Same Old Song) is incisive, truthful and witty. The film poses the question: Can love can survive vast social and cultural differences?, but there are no easy answers.
As we enjoy this warm, generous, funny and beautifully acted film we come to love the characters, with all their flaws and with all their problems. It's a total delight.
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