Nothing says French and Cannes more than amour, food and Juliette Binoche on the big screen. The Chocolat actress is back on the Croisette with the Tràn Anh Hùng’s movie, The Pot a Feu, and if you’re too much of a curmudgeon for the hanky panky and schmaltz in the movie, well then perhaps the filmmaker can win over your stomach with lush shots of cuisine.
Jessica Hausner’s Club Zero centered around anti-foodie folk in Mia Wasikowska’s stern nutrition teacher who inculcates her students with a philosophy of anorexia. The Pot a Feu is, oh, so the polar opposite. A Babette’s Feast and Like Water for Chocolate of sorts, the pic set in a 19th century French Loire Valley château and centers around gourmet Dodin (Benoît Magimel), and his longtime cook and collaborator Eugenie (Binoche), his cook and collaborator of over 20 years. While they sleep in separate beds, they certainly find the occasion to bond, and well simmer in other ways both in and out of the kitchen. He wants to marry, but she’s in no rush despite her failing health. The pic is based on a 1924 novel by French epicure Marcel Rouff which Hùng adapted.
Binoche shared her method for getting into her culinary character at today’s Cannes presser:
“In preparing the food, it was to always have a special reationship with the vegetables, with what we were cutting, with the details and almost having a lighthearted feeling,” said Binoche.
“That’s something I forgot when I cook, quite quick. Everything had to be conscious and special. In that way, it was very refined-like.”
“We can feel in Asian food, there’s a lot of spirit, the way you cut it, the way you prepare it,” the Oscar winner continued.
She would find herself saying “Slow down! Be with what you’re doing!”
“You have to make the spirit go down into the matter, and the matter has to lift into the spirit.”
Anh Hùng’ said in adapting the Swiss novel, “there’s magic in the pages on the art of cooking and food.”
However, “I told a story which proceeds the book; it’s a tale of love between Eugenie and Dodin,” said the filmmaker.
The Pot a Feu opens in France on Nov. 8.