Review: Delicieux (2021)

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Delicieux (2021)

Directed by: Eric Besnard | 112 minutes | comedy, drama | Actors: Grégory Gadebois, Isabelle Carré, Lorenzo Lefèbvre, Benjamin Lavernhe, Guillaume de Tonquédec, Christian Bouillette, Marie-Julie Baup, Laurent Bateau, Manon Combes, Félix Fournier, Christophe Rossignon, François De Brauer, Jérémy Lopez, Benjamin Lhommas

It might be hard to imagine now, but there was a time when restaurants didn’t exist and “dining out” wasn’t possible. There were inns or other eateries where travelers could catch their breath and fill their stomachs, but there was no choice of cuisine; you had to eat what’s in the pot. There was absolutely no question of conviviality or fine tasting. The French film ‘Délicieux’ tells the fictionalized and romanticized story of the origins of the restaurant business: how a chef, disaffected by the nobility, recovers from the valley and introduces the concept of ‘restaurant’ to all walks of life.

France, late eighteenth century. Pierre Manceron (Grégory Gadebois) has it right. His culinary passion and knowledge results in breathtaking dishes that are enjoyed with taste by his client, the Duke of Chamfort (Benjamin Lavernhe) and his guests. But in noble circles it is definitely not done to deviate from the norm. When Pierre serves patties filled with potato and truffle slices, he is first laughed at for this initiative and then forced to apologize. Pierre is proud and refuses, with the result that he is fired. Disillusioned, he and his nearly grown son move into his old father’s house, vowing never to cook again.

The filmmakers cannot be blamed for any subtlety. ‘Délicieux’ goes almost exactly as you would expect: from the arrival of Louise (Isabelle Carré), who says she would do anything to become an apprentice to Pierre – highly unusual in those days when a woman cooks – to the initial rigid attitude by Pierre (something he maintains for a long time, by the way). The friction between father and son, who dreams of building a culinary career in Paris, is also according to the book. Of course Pierre takes a seat behind the stove again and of course Louise – in addition to keeping a secret agenda – also turns out to be an excellent cook. Disaster, adversity, successes and triumphs… ‘Délicieux’ always remains in balance.

That predictability doesn’t do the film any good, but it doesn’t make it really annoying. Many of the other aspects are very decent. The decoration is more than beautiful, the actors convince and it is satisfying to finally see the nobility with their tails between their legs. The film takes advantage of the beautiful setting of the French countryside, which makes you spontaneously want a trip to the south of France (the film was shot in the Cantal and Aveyron departments, among others), including mouth-watering French delicacies, of course. Kudos to the cinematographer and the chefs who prepared the dishes. ‘Délicieux’ is French feel-good pur sang, with a touch of history and a lot of love for the kitchen and the catering industry.

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