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Hortense Laborie is a celebrated chef living in the Perigord region. To her great surprise, the President of the Republic appoints her as his personal cook. She accepts reluctantly but once she has accepted her nomination, Hortense works her heart and soul to produce both a stylish and authentic cuisine. For a while, she manages to impose herself thanks to her sturdy character and despite the jealousies she arouses among the other chefs. For a while only, unfortunately for her and for... the President.Written by
544th Review: Cooking for the President's taste...and ours...
Les Saveurs du Palais is for those who like their dramas without the drama - it offers some insight to French internal politics, but much more, it is simply a charming way to celebrate la cuisine francaise.
A gentle, well-made drama-comedy based on the real-life experiences of Danièle Delpeuch who really was Mitterand's cook - this fictional account places heavy emphasis on the food and takes us on a journey to the heart of the French cuisine - perfection and simplicity. The film starts on Antartica's Crozen Island and through flashbacks we see how the president's personal cook, fictinally named, Hortense Laborie, ended up there.
Catherine Frot has become one of France's best actresses for dramas that require a still, calm, composed center, with the hint that passion is simmering under the surface - her slightly bemused but determined trademark style makes this film work - it is a wonderful solo performance - and she is in every scene - and she brings a delicacy to the role that makes the film a delight to watch.
Not surprisingly perhaps the film lacks a little when it comes to conflict and drama - there is good drama - but, it is rather a look into the Champs Elysée and its internal workings. A strong supporting cast, particularly her young sous-chef (Arthur Dupont), who is rapidly becoming a name in French cinema, and the President (Novelist Jean D'Ormesson - who is a superb and prolific biographer but is not a professional career actor). Director Christian Vincent makes great use of permission to film in and around the president's palace and like the food the two settings, the Champs Elysée and in Antartica's Crozen Island lift the film.
Overall, this is a charming, and interesting take on food and it's place throughout French society - it is well worth your time.
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