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THE TASTE OF OTHERS (Les Gout des Autres)
Miramax Zoe
Official Site
Director: Agnes Jaoui
Producer: Christian Berard, Charles Gassot
Written by: Agnes Jaoui, Jean-Pierre Bacri
Cast: Agnes Jaoui, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Brigitte Catillon, Alain Chabat, Gerard Lanvin, Anne Alvaro, Christiane Millet

Rating: out of 5

Something about this movie reminded me of HOWARD’S END—maybe it was the “business class meets the art/culture class” aspect. At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed THE TASTE OF OTHERS, and can’t wait to see it again. I also am keenly interested in seeking out other films scripted by Agnes Jaoui.

Paris manufacturer Castella (Bacri), deep in the middle of delicate business negotiations with Iranians, grudgingly goes to the theater with his wife, Angelique (Millet) and has his world turned upside-down. To his own very great surprise, he is deeply affected by the play (Berenice), and especially by the performance of the lead, Clara (Alvaro). Clara also happens to be the mousy English-language tutor he met dismissively that very afternoon, and Castella is so smitten that he returns to the theater night after night.

Other fascinating satellites orbit around Clara and Castella in their dance toward love. His chauffeur (Chabat), whose fiancee is away on an internship in America, is secure in his beliefs about men and women’s views on love and sex. His bodyguard, Frank (Lanvin), who clearly is satisfied that he’s an old-school tough guy, barely entertains the notion that women have views on sex. Manie, a bartender at the cafe where the worlds of art and business intersect, opens both of these guys’ eyes. And finally there’s Clara, a scrupulously honest woman who’s afraid that she’s missing out on it all, and Castella, who has just become aware that something’s missing.

This movie is funny in places and touching in other places, as (real-life spouses) Jaoui and Bacri’s script explores the taste of others in all the myriad ways—preferences v. sensibilities; fine arts v. decorative arts; drugs of choice and attitudes toward relationships—as well as the epiphany-making power of a mere taste of others’ lives. I can’t recommend this one highly enough. It’s not just because I had to watch some real stinkers this week that I beg you not to let intelligent filmmaking like this go unrewarded. Go see it.

—Roxanne Bogucka

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

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