Feature films about food that will tingle your taste buds

Using a visual and sonic medium to depict that which is heavily reliant on our sense of taste and smell is a rather challenging endeavour. It provides an opportunity for filmmakers to experiment with how visuals can be used to trigger those senses in the audience.
There are many films that have been made which revolve around the topic of food, whether it is the driving theme or a recurring element. These are some of the many films out there that will surely entice its viewers with the diverse palates of stories surrounding the world of food.

Chocolat

Based on the book by Joanne Harris and directed by Lasse Hallstrom, this is a story of a woman, Vianne and her daughter who open a chocolaterie in a small French village during Lent. The conservative town is first sceptical of their presence but is soon marvelled by her delicious Mayan influenced treats and her compassion. But she is yet to convince the town’s rigid and pious mayor, who is determined on shutting the shop down.
The scenes of Vianne preparing various chocolates for her shop will make any viewer want to jump into the screen and lick the chocolate off the spoons and bowls, while the music accentuates and tempts you even more.

Burnt

Burnt follows the story of a faded two-star Michelin chef who is trying to make a comeback after his long stint with drug addiction. Adam moves to London and leads to one of its top restaurants with the goal of grabbing its third star. More than the food itself, the highlight of the film is the intense world of haute cuisine, what it demands of people and the dedication that goes into these high-class establishments.

Paris Can Wait

Diane Lane plays Anne, the wife of a movie producer, attending the Cannes Film Festival. An unexpected turn of events leads to Anne going travelling from Cannes to Paris with her husband’s colleague. Though it would be more appropriate to call this a road trip movie, there are many parts in it where food sweeps in and steals the scene. It’s a movie about a woman rediscovering the simple joys in life from food and wine to romance and everything in between.

The Hundred-foot Journey

This journey begins with an Indian family moving to a small village in France after an unfortunate incident in India. Upon arriving in their new home, they decide to open an Indian restaurant opposite Madame Mallary’s Michelin star business. Soon a rivalry ensues between the Kadams and Madame Mallory, and within it is Hassan Kadam, whose talent for cooking sparks new relationships between the two sides.
In this film, we experience the delicacy of French cuisine as well as the spice infused, colourful food of India.

Julie and Julia

This is a story of two women, both situated in a different time and place, but both connected by their love of food. Julia Child lives with her diplomat husband in Paris in 1949 and starts studying at the Cordon Bleu. Julie Powell, an aspiring writer living in New York, 2002 decides to cook all the recipes in the book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking“ in one year. While the film follows Julie’s journey of cooking and blogging about her mission, we are also taken along Julia’s tale of writing and publishing that very book decade earlier.

I am Love

Directed by Luca Guadagnino and starring Tilda Swinton, I am Love is a beautifully crafted film. Emma is a Russian woman who left her country to marry an Italian man, becoming a part of a powerful milanese family. Though she lives a comfortable life with three grown children, there still seems to be a sense of loneliness surrounding her life. When her son introduces her to his friend, Antonio, a talented chef, they soon begin an affair after she is mesmerised by his culinary creations.

The Lunchbox

A very unusual and wistful story about how food connects two people in the city of Mumbai when a lunchbox is wrongly delivered through its dabba system. Ila is a lonely housewife looking to rekindle her relationship with her inattentive husband through her cooking. Fernandes is an accountant who receives Ila’s food. Soon the two begin to exchange notes through the lunchbox, but will this lead to something more than just a correspondence?
Taking something as ordinary as everyday cooking and turning it around to spark a complicated and nostalgic relationship between two people is a unique way of using this lens to create a drama.

Ustad Hotel

A Malayalam-language film, this is a tale of rediscovering one’s roots through culinary traditions. Faizal has just graduated from culinary school through his father thinks that he has been studying hotel management, as being a chef is considered a meek job in their community. After a confrontation, Faizal is forced to go back to India where he works for his grandfather, the esteemed Karim Ikka, in his restaurant, Ustad Hotel.
There many scenes in the film showing the famous Malabar cuisine and one in particular about black tea that is most memorable. Through Faizal, we learn about the relationship between food and the community and what it means to serve.

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