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Businessman Castella (Jean-Pierre Bacri), on the verge of a deal with foreign clients, is buffeted between his interior decorator wife Angelique (Christiane Millet) and his temporary bodyguard, Moreno (Gerard Lanvin). One night at the theatre, the reluctant Castella is intrigued by the lead actress, Clara (Anne Alvaro), and takes English lessons from her, with growing amorous interest. His chauffeur, Deschamps (Alain Chabat) has a girlfriend away for six months, and begins a fling with the local barmaid, Manie (Agnès Jaoui) who ends up in the arms of Moreno. Meanwhile, an artist catches Castella’s eye and is commissioned to paint his factory’s façade.

Unlike French comedies such as The Dinner Game, The Taste of Others does not rend you helpless with laughter. Instead, it gently amuses, poignantly observes and involves us intimately in the lives of a group of characters that meet on various levels. We meet the businessman, the chauffeur, the bodyguard, the wife, the actress and the waitress; the intersection of their lives and the impact they each have on the other is fascinating. Life and love is unpredictable, and our choices beyond comprehension. Jean-Pierre Bacri and Agnès Jaoui's script unravels leisurely, and although it requires some perseverance to discover where the story is leading, it is well worth the effort. We explore the intricacies of the characters' lives, and we begin to understand them. Just like life itself, the superficial is not always reflective of the reality, and circumstances often deal the hands. Sharing intimacies can be very different things. There's a very amusing scene when the bodyguard and the chauffeur discuss the number of women they have slept with. At the other end of the spectrum is the Castella's heartfelt, clumsy declaration of love (in rhyming English verse) to Manie, the actress. Set in an English tea house, where Manie is playing the role of the english teacher and Castella bares his soul in the context of his english lessons, it's one of those beautiful moments that is funny, painful and poignant all at the same time. Jean Pierre Bacri leads a superb cast: it's no wonder the film was awarded eight Cesar (French Oscars) nominations. From ethereal Schubert to a blundering flute led rendition of Piaf's No Regrets, music is used to punctuate, describe and amuse. Anne Alvaro's Clara is extraordinary and the way Clara and Castella's relationship develops is totally compelling. Applause is meaningless unless that special person is there, and what magic a smile can bring. I was a little disappointed by the subtitles, which don't always reflect the nuance of the French language. I really enjoyed the gentleness of The Taste of Others, a joyous interlude that perfectly describes the illogical, unpredictable nature of our loves.
Louise Keller

The Taste of Others is best approached in anticipation of deep character probes and revelations, rather than a simple story of what happens when . . . The script is subtle and wordy (whose nuances the English subtitles barely capture) and it takes half the film to engage us. But when it does, it becomes a satisfying, amusing yet profound exploration of the layers that people conceal and reveal as they pass through various types of relationship. The title refers not to cannibalistic sampling but to taste as in choice and lifestyle. Writer/performers Bacri and Jaoui have successfully developed a handful of characters who circle each other in various capacities, and whose emotional and psychological status is the subject of the script. Both deliver memorable and interesting characters who will stay with you long after the film – as do the entire cast. This is a film much loved by festival audiences (it’s played at almost a dozen around the world, from Montreal and New York to Singapore and Tunisia), probably as much for the superb performances as for its gentle yet incisive screenplay. It takes a little time to draw us in, but it’s well worth the process.
Andrew L. Urban

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(Le goût des autres)

CAST: Agnès Jaoui, Christiane Millet, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Anne Alvaro, Brigitte Catillon, Alain Chabat, Gerard Lanvin

DIRECTOR: Agnès Jaoui

PRODUCER: Charles Gassot

SCRIPT: Jean-Pierre Bacri, Agnès Jaoui


EDITOR: Hervé de Luze

PRODUCTION DESIGN: François Emmanuelli

MUSIC: Jean-Charles Jarrel

RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 1, 2001 Melbourne; November 15, 2001 Sydney



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