A wonderful kitchen, copper cookware to die of envy, very heavy dishes (French cuisine is all fat and cooking grounds) and a love story that, we know, will end in a certain way. The review of La passion de Dodin Bouffant by Federico Gironi.
A few minutes from the beginning of La passion de Dodin Bouffant I was thinking insistently about two things: the first, how much I envied that kitchen, and that splendid copper cookware, which you see in the film: the second is that I felt like leafing through a book by Mimi Thorisson.
In case you were wondering who it is, Mimi Thorisson is a former French-Chinese model who, after marrying an Icelandic photographer, went to live with her children and dogs in a chateau in the French countryside identical to that of the film by Tran Anh Hungand has become a famous food blogger, and author of cookbooks and food books full of photographs that almost seem to have been modeled, copied for this film.
Look for his Instagram, or his books, and you’ll get the idea.
The Dodin Bouffant of the title was great gourmand and French chef of the late nineteenth century. At least in the novel of Marcel Rouffwho in 1924 released it from his pen, and which was the basis of this film.
A book and a film that tell not only of Dodin Buffant’s menus, of raw materials and preparations, of old wood-burning stoves and broths, stews, roasts, consommés, vol au vents and white or red wines, but still very refined, but which tell of the love between Dodin Bouffant (Benoit Magimel) and Eugenie (Juliette Binoche), the woman who for twenty years was his cook and his right-hand man and who, over time, also became his lover, and his great love.
And so, between chicken and rack of lamb, oysters and Norwegian omelettes, turbot and vegetables of all kinds, The passion of Dodin Bouffant talks to us somewhat mannered and vaguely mawkish tones of this love, of Dodin’s dream of marrying Eugénie, but also of her mysterious illness, which threatens to undermine the happiness and balance they have achieved.
The shrewd spectator here has probably already figured out where the film is going, even if I haven’t mentioned yet that at the beginning of the film we also see a little girl, in Dodin and Eugénie’s kitchen, who is destined to become Dodin’s new apprentice. Dodin, and the fact that here food and wine are not just reasons for living, but life tout court.
Let’s perhaps add to this that Tran Anh Hung shoots with a single camera that swings slowly around dishes and protagonists, and which leaves the only soundtrack to be the freezing of fats, the simmering of broths, sauces and cooking grounds, the noise of leaves shaking in the wind and the chirping of birds.
However, if you remove the scenes of cooking, preparing and consuming dishes from La passion by Dodin Bouffant, and you remove the fact that seeing Magimel act is always a pleasure, Tran Anh Hung’s film has very little left. In terms of playing time – for example, in the first 35 minutes you see nothing but preparations and drinks – and in terms of content.
In the end, the impression is really that of having leafed through a book by Mimi Thorissonwhile however we listened inattentively to someone who told us the plot of a love story destined to end badly, and of a life that must continue thanks to a passion for food and wine.
If someone with a weak stomach were to seek aid for digestion, it is not for the cuisine (albeit French, therefore heavy), but more for certain sugars, not even excessive, of the mélo.