The Cannes Film Festival competition draws to a close with Nanni Moretti’s Il Sol Dell’Avvenire (Towards a Radiant Future) and Tran Anh Hung’s La Passion de Dodin Bouffant (The Pot-au-feu).
Festival de Cannes 2023 : the competition comes to an end today with Il Sol Dell’Avvenire, Nanni Moretti‘s tenth film in Competition in which he is behind and in front of the camera in a bittersweet comedy. With La Passion de Dodin Bouffant, Tran Anh Hung signs a sumptuous homage to French gastronomy, with majestic culinary images, but with a real story, suspense and loving passion too, because the passion of the things of the table cannot do without the things of love.
Il Sol Dell’Avvenire, a bittersweet present
Since Ecce Bombo in 1978, his first film in the Official Selection behind the camera, The Son’s Room (Palme d’Or in 2001), Tre Piani (2021), Nanni Moretti has liked to explore the moods of his contemporaries. In his tenth film in the Competition, Nanni Moretti plays Giovanni, a prolific filmmaker and renowned artist who has been affected by an awareness, who is shooting his next film, writing the next one, and thinking about the third. But the elements, both professional and personal, seem to be working against him: his marriage is in crisis, his French producer is on the verge of bankruptcy and his daughter is abandoning him – everything seems to go wrong for him! Always on the edge, Giovanni will have to rethink his way of doing things if he wants to lead his little world towards a bright future.
High gastronomy as an art form
Tran Anh Hung had already tackled cooking in The Smell of Green Papaya, which won the Golden Camera and the Youth Prize at Un Certain Regard in Cannes in 1993. Titled The Pot-au-feu in English, La Passion de Dodin Bouffant is an ode to French culinary traditions and to haute gastronomy understood as an art and an art of living. For Dodin-Bouffant (Benoît Magimel), a gourmet and expert cook, a scholar of recipes and colourful literary quotations, life revolves around the kitchen stove and the dining room table, sanctuaries where a few apostles of good eating and drinking come to commune with him by savoring the tasty “haute cuisine” dishes he has created, skilfully concocted by Eugénie Chatagne (Juliette Binoche), the tutelary goddess ruling the manor’s kitchens.
Lovers in the kitchen as in life
At the end of the 19th century, during the Belle Époque, when Auguste Escoffier and César Ritz opened the Ritz Hotel on Place Vendôme in Paris, Dodin-Bouffant continued the legacy of Antonin Carême, the first chef in history, in the kitchen of his manor in the Jura. A chef of genius – his friends call him the Napoleon of Gastronomy – he has been developing tasty recipes for twenty years in collaboration with Eugénie, with the credo that the ingredients must keep their own flavours while blending into a harmony, like the themes of a symphony. This duo, in love in the kitchen, is also in love in life, and their marriage is finally going to consecrate their union when Eugénie has worrying illnesses. Dodin-Bouffant then cooks for her.
Chère bonne chère (Dear good food)
In adapting Marcel Rouff’s book, La Vie et la Passion de Dodin-Bouffant, which he published in 1924 and dedicated to his friend Curnonsky, the Franco-Vietnamese director has created a work that is masterfully photographed in a warm light, where beautiful products are magnified into culinary m arvels (orchestrated by the three-star chef Pierre Gagnaire offering images of sublime sensuality. Tran Anh Hung celebrates the act of cooking with a virtuoso camera that focuses on capturing the gesture of the cook, the eye attentive to the smallest detail.
Transmission of know-how
The film also evokes what is very important for chefs: the transmission of knowledge and know-how. As for the democratic pot-au-feu “which has fed many French families”, it will become in the pots of Dodin-Bouffant, a delicacy destined to amaze the Prince of Eurasia, as a counterpoint to the usual parade of gourmet dishes of the cult of good food. Come on, take your seats!
The Red Carpet of The Pot-au-feu in pictures
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