HE has two messages for Eddie Ginley and all the Anatomy of a Fall snooties who had dismissed the idea of France selecting The Pot-au-Feu (aka The Taste of Things) as its official submission for the Best Int’l Feature Oscar.

In the wake of France having snubbed Justine Triet‘s bad-marriage courtroom procedural in favor of Tran Anh Hung’s sensual masterpiece, HE’s first message is “hah!” Message #2: “poor babies!”

Nothing makes me feel better than to remind know-it-alls that they don’t know it all.

France did right by selecting an instant classic that is not only spoken entirely in French (Anatomy contains roughly 60% French vs. 40% English) but exudes the soul of France by way of fine French cuisine.

Thanks to World of Reel‘s Jordan Ruimy for the heads up.

Posted on 5.24.23:

Set in rural France around 1885 and adapted from Marcel Rouff‘s “La Vie et la passion de Dodin-Bouffant,” it’s a longish (135 minutes), meditative, story-light romance about a soothing autumnal blending of souls (Juliette Binoche‘s Eugenie + Benoît Magimel‘s Dodin Bouffant).

Slow to ripen, their romance has been simmering over 20 years of cooking collaboration, and midway through it finally results in the somewhat reluctant Eugenie accepting Dodin’s proposal of marriage. Alas…

Erotic desire is certainly a key ingredient, but their relationship is primarily rooted in the reverential worship of sublime French cooking, and the exacting preparation that goes into it. Exquisite food is a manifestation of love and natural grace that melts the soul and vice vera.

And the whole thing is lovingly captured by dp Jonathan Ricquebourg with alternate use of sunlight and candlelight, and frequently shot inside a large French kitchen warmed by a perfect brick fireplace.

If the Cannes jury doesn’t award The Pot au Feu with the Palme d’Or or at least the second-place Grand Prix…well, it wouldn’t be the first time that a jury has ignored the obvious.

Incredibly and stunningly, I’ve just been told by a fellow journo that he just spoke with a few jackals who hate it and feel it’s among the festival’s worst. There is truly no accounting for taste.

I can only re-emphasize that the God-food-soul aspect (certainly the central current throughout) mixes perfectly with the aging-male-gourmet-adores-brilliant-woman-chef love story, and that the slow pace and lack of a substantive story doesn’t get in the way of anything.

If you’re a little bit older (30-plus) and have the slightest appreciation or respect for the basic elements that go into heavenly cooking (spirit, devotion, discipline), this slow-moving but luscious film will put the hook in and then some. It got my blood going, made my mouth water repeatedly and (should I put it this way?) gave me a foodie stiffie

All great films play by their own rules and pass along universal truths with their own particular playbook. This is what The Pot au Feu manages every which way. It never feels precious or over-sauced or the least bit sentimentalized.

The feeling of restraint is constant and the silences (no music!) are wonderful as Hung and Ricquebourg simply show how various dishes are prepared with immaculate care, especially during an early sequence in which Binoche overseas dish after dish with seemingly divine inspiration.

You can call it food porn and to be fair that’s what it is, but The Pot au Feu is an exceptionally spiritual (you could even call it religious) variation upon a theme. Love stories come in all shapes and sizes.

Triet’s Wiki page: “While receiving her Palme d’Or at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, Triet declared her support for the pension reform protest movement and opposed to President Emmanuel Macron’s repression of it. She accused the “neo-liberal government” of fostering cultural commercialization and weakening France’s cultural exceptionalism. Triet dedicated her prize to new directors and those facing challenges in the film industry, urging greater chances and support for rising talent. Her remarks linked to debates that took place in France in October 2022 at the Appel aux Etats Generaux (Call for General Assemblies), an exhibition conference, during which some industry insiders blamed French “auteur” filmmaking for dwindling box office and urged for a reduction in French film output.[16] Triet’s speech was criticized by Macron’s party, right-wing activists and politicians, and by French culture minister Rima Abdul Malak, who said she was “flabbergasted by such unfair comments.”[17] Triet’s speech received support from left-wing politicians and the SRF, the French directors’s guild.”

HE viewpoint: The French labor protests, which began last January, were opposed to the retirement age being raised from 62 to 64 years old. Entitled little pussies!