CATHERINE FROT stars in HAUTE CUISINE
Photo: Anouchka de Williencourt
2013, 95 minutes
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language
Review by Joshua Handler
Christian Vincent’s Haute Cuisine is one of the most genuinely pleasurable films I have had the good fortune to have seen in recent memory. The film tells the true story of Danièle Delpeuch, the private chef for former French President François Mitterrand, through the character of Hortense Laborie, played with wit and heart by Catherine Frot (The Dinner Game).
While Haute Cuisine has little substance, it is so incredibly entertaining, well-acted, and beautifully-made that the lack of substance is completely forgivable. Frot’s performance is superb and drives the film. She brings a homey kind of warmth to her performance that makes her instantly relatable and sympathetic. Frot commands the screen with her charm and largely makes this film as effective as it is.
The screenplay, written by Vincent and Etienne Comar, is witty and never boring. A film about a chef could have been horrifyingly boring, but Vincent and Comar’s script keeps things moving at a quick pace. The conversations are sharp and funny, and the story is consistently compelling.
It is wise to go into Haute Cuisine on a full stomach, as the foods presented in the film are mouthwatering and gorgeously presented; they will make you hungry on an empty stomach. Much of Haute Cuisine’s running time is devoted to scenes depicting the creation of these dishes and this makes the film that much more pleasurable to watch.
Overall, Haute Cuisine is a true delight that should please audiences old and young. Frot is fantastic and the film’s down-to-earth tone makes it an easy watch. Let’s face it – who doesn’t love comedy and food?