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Le Goût des Autres

Agnes Jaoui

The Taste of Others

Agnes Jaoui’s wonderful dramatic comedy Le Goût des autres was a huge hit in France and received an Oscar nomination in the ‘best foreign film’ category. This is Jaoui’s first film as a director, but it follows much excellent work as a writer and actress. She co-wrote Alain Resnais’s On connait la chanson (The Same Old Song) with partner Jean-Pierre Bacri, and the pair also wrote and acted in Un air de famille (Family Resemblances).

In The Taste of Others, Jaoui sets up a battle between art and commerce as two rival social circles collide head-on in French suburbia. Captain of industry Castella (Bacri) is steeped in the culture of deal-making and is oblivious to any form of high art. Apoplectic at the idea of being dragged by his wife to a theatre performance of Racine’s Berenice, he in fact finds himself moved to tears and becomes smitten with leading actress Clara (Anne Alvaro). Castella pursues Clara relentlessly, churning out embarrassing poetry, snapping up abstract paintings and generally flaunting his poor taste.
The film takes in a large cast of characters, each of whom is attached to a particular circle. Jaoui and Bacri bring the protagonists together and observe the chasm that exists between different social groups. As Bacri has explained, ‘the film is about sectarianism and parochialism, as well as about the dictatorship of tastes.’ Filming in long, fluid takes that give her excellent cast plenty of space, Jaoui refuses to condone or condemn her characters but finds plenty of sadness as well as humour in their prejudices and short-sightedness.
France, 1999.
English subtitles.
Colour.
Anamorphic.
Dolby digital stereo.
112 mins.

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