Saturday, November 17, 2012

Les Saveurs du Palais / Haute Cuisine

Haute cuisine - mestari keittiössä / Haute cuisine [Swedish title]. FR © 2012 Les Saveurs du Palais / Armada Films / Vendôme Production / Wild Bunch / France 2. P: Étienne Comar, Philippe Rousselet. D: Christian Vincent. SC: Étienne Comar, Christian Vincent - story: Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch. DP: Laurent Dailland. PD: Patrick Durand. Cost: Fabienne Katany. SFX: Sabotage Studio. M: Gabriel Yared. "Danse macabre" (Camille Saint-Saëns), "Auld Lang Syne" (Robert Burns). S: Stéphane Thiébaut. ED: Monica Coleman. Casting: Aurélie Guichard. Experts: Gérard Besson, Guy Leguay, Elisabeth Scotto. Loc: Paris (Palais de l'Elysée), Château de Vigny (Val-d'Oise), Château de Chantilly (Chantilly) (as Palais de l'Elysée interiors), Brive-la-Gaillarde (Corrèze), Reykhólar (Iceland) (as Crozet Island). In French and with some English (Crozet Island). 95 min

C (as edited in Wikipedia):

    Catherine Frot : Hortense Laborie
    Jean d'Ormesson : le président de la République
    Hippolyte Girardot : David Azoulay, le conseiller
    Arthur Dupont : Nicolas Bauvois, le jeune assistant pâtissier
    Jean-Marc Roulot : Jean-Marc Luchet, le maître d'hôtel au service du président
    Brice Fournier : Pascal Le Piq, le chef de la cuisine centrale
    Arly Jover : Mary, la réalisatrice australienne
    Joe Sheridan : John, le caméraman de Mary
    Philippe Uchan : Coche-Dury, l'intendant
    Laurent Poitrenaux : Jean-Michel Salomé, le successeur d'Azoulay
    Hervé Pierre : Perrières, le chef de cabinet
    Manuel Le Lièvre : Loïc, le nouveau cuisinier de la base Alfred-Faure
    Thomas Chabrol
    Louis-Emmanuel Blanc : Arnaud Fremier
    David Houri : David Epenot, un interprète de la pièce sur la base
    Nicolas Chupin : Anthony, un interprète de la pièce sur la base
    Catherine Davenier : madame Arvelet
    Steve Tran : Gregory, un cuisinier de la base
    Hugo Malpeyre : le chef de rang de l'Élysée
    Nathalie Vignes : la fleuriste du palais
    Fabrice Colson : un invité du cocktail
    Nicolas Beaucaire : le docteur Kramer
    Lionel Tavera : l'aide de camp du président de la République

Released by Cinema Mondo with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Outi Kainulainen  / Joanna Erkkilä. 2K DCP viewed at Matin-Tupa, Ylistaro (Filmiä ja valoa), 17 Nov 2012.

«Donnez-moi le meilleur de la France!»

Official synopsis: "Hortense Laborie est une cuisinière réputée qui vit dans le Périgord. À sa grande surprise, le président de la République la nomme responsable de ses repas personnels au palais de l'Élysée. Malgré les jalousies des chefs de la cuisine centrale, Hortense s’impose avec son caractère bien trempé. L’authenticité de sa cuisine séduit rapidement le Président mais, dans les coulisses du pouvoir, les obstacles sont nombreux..."

The international title of the movie (Haute cuisine) is misleading. This movie is about superior home cooking as the opposite of haute cuisine.

After Comme un chef, another well-made comedy on la grande cuisine during the same season. It's brilliant, it's perfect, and its authenticity is based on true experiences by Danièle Delpeuch in the early 1970s but not based on her book Mes carnets de cuisine, du Périgord à l’Élysée (1997), yet inspired by Édouard Nignon's Éloge de la cuisine française qui donne lieu, with a preface by Sacha Guitry.

It starts in the French Antarctis at the Base Scientifique Alfred Faure (Archipel Crozet) where one of the greatest masters of French cuisine is now cooking for the Antarctic explorers. The mystery is solved in long flashbacks in which we hear the story of Hortense Laborie who for two years cooked for the President. Her meals were superb, but doctors' orders and Palace intrigues made her work impossible. (At the end of the film we learn that the cooking on the damn island is well paid and the money makes it possible for Hortense to cultivate truffles in New Zealand).

A memorable scene: the President's remark to Hortense that adversity can be empowering.

Another memorable scene (I wish I could quote it verbatim) is about the word "we", how it can be understood in two opposite ways, as a word of self-indulgence and as a word of the President being the representative of the people of France.

"Faites-moi une cuisine simple" - "une cuisine de mère". "Je veux retrouver le goût des choses". "How sad a thing is a good health based on a stern diet".

The performances are perfect, the timing is brilliant, the score is Hitchcockian, the comedy is intelligent. In Hortense's farewell party in the Antarctic there is a farce parody where the actors imagine her life at the Palace.

I like the epic dimension in the film that on the surface focuses on cooking only. It's about the earth and the water, the elements, it's about life, it's about a meal as a superior form of communication and as a sign of respect. That is the profound, ancient meaning of sharing a meal, and it has lost none of its validity.

Visual quality: in this digital projection the juicy, warm, lively and earthy nature of the cooking looked very appetizing.

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