DELICIOUS

Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Eric Besnard

Stars: Gregory Gadebois, Isabelle Carre, Lorenzo Lefebvre, Benjamin Lavernhe.

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No-one makes foodie films quite like the French, and Delicious is certainly not a film to see on an empty stomach.  

Set in France on the eve of the revolution, this drama mixes fact and fiction to tell the story of the creation of the first first French restaurant that catered to travellers. At that time haute cuisine cooking was the preserve of the wealthy. Only the nobles ate well with lavishly prepared meals from their own private chef and staff, who often served up to nine courses of rich dishes in a palatial private dining room. It is here that we meet Pierre Manceron (played by Gregory Gadebois, from An Officer And A Spy, etc) a chef who is devoted to his work and who takes pride in his gourmet creations. In the opening scene we see the love and care with which he creates his delicacies. He is employed by the arrogant and foppish Duke of Chalmont (Benjamin Lavernhe, recently seen in The French Dispatch, etc).  

But when one of the duke’s dining companions complains about having been served truffles (which he considered only fit for pigs), Manceron is dismissed because he refuses to apologise for the unintended insult. With his teenage son Benjamin (Lorenzo Lefebvre) in tow Manceron returns to his former family home in the country, which is now dilapidated and in ruins. He has lost his taste for cooking.  

But then he meets Louise (Isabelle Carre, from De Gaulle, etc), who says that she wants to apprentice under him. Manceron is initially reluctant but eventually yields to her persistence. And she slowly reintroduces him to the passion of cooking. 

At first, he gives her only menial jobs, but she soon finds her way into the kitchen and begins to further inspire him. With the help of Benjamin and Louise he eventually transforms the ramshackle house into a coach-stop that serves hearty meals to the passing trade. But Louise has an ulterior motive for working with Manceron, and it involves the duke. Eventually she reveals her dark secrets to Manceron, who becomes a co-conspirator in her scheme to gain revenge on the duke for his past cruelties. 

Manceron is a man of few words and Gadebois plays him in a suitably gruff manner. But he also captures his doubts, uncertainties and insecurities and Gadebois brings depth and nuance to his performance. Carre brings a strength to her performance as Louise. The growing attraction between Manceron and Louise is delicately developed. 

Delicious has been nicely directed by Eric Besnard, who wrote the film that Guy Ritchie’s gritty, action packed heist thriller Wrath Of Man was based on. Delicious deals with themes of revenge, redemption, second chances and revolution. A wonderfully crafted period piece, this is beautifully atmospheric, and has been nicely shot by his regular cinematographer Jean-Marie Dreujou (who shot the tv miniseries The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair, etc). Where possible he has used natural lighting and suffused the film with a warm colour palette. There is some nice production design from Bertrand Seitz that recreates the shabby interiors for Manceron’s house. 

★★★ 

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