Heading into Danish director Christoffer Boe’s latest film “A TASTE OF HUNGER”, I had more of a picture in my head of the 1990’s film ‘Big Night’ where the focus of the film was basically making food and making the audience drool over it, while having an almost comedic backstory to boot. This film came close in some ways, but not quite in the same manner.
Here in a different take on a chef’s story, Carsten (Nikoaj Coster-Waldau) has been working for 10 years to build up his small restaurant Malus, in Copenhagen with the only goal being that of earning the oh-so-rare and coveted Michelin star. His wife, Maggi (Katrine Gries-Rosenthal), is his partner in life as well as in business. We see how committed to the cause they are, and while they appear to have a solid marriage and are decent parents, it’s clear the kids and the family are not the priority in that as the quest for that rare restaurant star is. Maggi is at the point of looking outside her marriage for affection with another chef from a competing restaurant, which her young daughter Chloe (Flora Augusta) completely notices and their son August (August Vinkel), has an episode where he randomly wanders off and goes missing due to lack of attention from his parents.
All this deflects from the true story at hand here, again, obtaining the Michelin star, and we watch as Carsten goes through some true Ludo Lefebvre type rages that is seemingly popular amongst chefs to do. But instead of following that trend, we get taken into some really delicious and delicate food porn scenery. It’s beautiful to see such flair given here in the details with each dish being shown in it’s carefully arranged and perfectly cooked manner. The acting portrays the deep desire that every chef has to create a dish that the customer would never forget, as one can almost smell all of the delicious food, as if the scent of sautéed oyster, cooked octopus, and fermented lemons are wafting through the screen right into you. It also conveys what it really means to achieve this prized star for your restaurant as a whole. In essence, their entire life rides on it and while some might think it’s just food, it’s clear to not just Carsten and Maggi, but to their friends who join them while waiting to hear – one in particular Torben (Nicolas Bro), shows how important it is even to him.
While the story isn’t perfect here, it is the opening scenes that are truly the most beautiful to set the tone of the movie with the sequence of beautifully presented food and the music create an enthralling introduction to the movie. Yes, the mish-mash of back and forth flashbacks of the family’s decline into unhappiness might not be all that one wants to watch, but it does let you know why things are happening. As with all families, not everything is what it seems on the outside, but it does take away some from the true point of this film.
So while the food portion of this film will definitely cleanse your palette, the story as a whole might lead you straight into dessert, even with all ending as it does. But it’s definitely worth a taste.
Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies
Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR
“A TASTE OF HUNGER” hits theaters and on demand Friday, January 28, 2022