I personally find food-focused films hit or miss – not much in the grey area. The great films of this genre are few and far between, but it seems like the most successful of them all seem to have one thing in common: a focus on how food nourishes ourselves, our spirits, and our connections with one another beyond the table. Whether it is the act of preparing the food, the act of sharing it with others, or just savoring a few bites on our own palate, there is something to gastronomy that taps into parts of us that have nothing to do with the tongue or stomach.
I’ll admit that I cry every time I watch Ratatouille.
I think Toast is a sheer delight.
The Hundred-Foot Journey is flawed, but lovely.
I watched Babette’s Feast (or Babettes gæstebud) after years of hearing that it is the foodiest foodie film of all time. Anyone who knows me knows that I really try to avoid anything that is hyped too much and that an almost sure-fire way of getting me to NOT watch/read/listen to something is to tell me that I HAVE to. But no one really did that to me with this film. I’ve known it to be a paragon of food cinema only through articles and lists I’ve read over the years in books and magazines and on internet lists. My expectations were tepid.
It’s a “foreign film” from a time (1987) when they were only shown in art houses or on obscure television channels/PBS. I thought it might be too precious or take itself too seriously and ultimately be a disappointment. It is at times too precious and always takes itself too seriously, but it is also funny, and sweet, and touching, and lovely. I think it’s a movie to watch on your own or with someone you know is able to handle a slow burn and quirky storytelling, but I encourage any food lover (especially those who love French food) to take a break from life and lose yourself in this movie for a couple of hours. I watched it by myself over coffee and breakfast on a rainy summer morning and I think that might be the best way to see it.
I’m always looking for suggestions for films about food, so if you have some, please comment!