A rich, boorish, married businessman (Jean Pierre Bacri), smitten by a refined local actress (Anne Alvaro), wanders from the confines of his chintz covered domestic routine to invade her bohemian world in Agnès Jaoui’s astute romantic comedy The Taste of Others, France’s official Oscar submission. And the artiste is far from flattered. From this collision of tastes, Jaoui creates a wonderful scenario in which all kinds of artistes and bourgeoisie collide and reassess what they want out of life.
Jaoui (who cowrote the screenplay with her companion, Bacri) handles her crowd of vivid characters so naturally, and shoots her scenes so unobtrusively, that the diagrammatic cleverness of the plot never overwhelms the intelligence of the observations. Then again, she also plays one of those characters, a free spirited bartender involved with the businessman’s tradition minded bodyguard (Gérard Lanvin). By the end, we know and admire these strong willed people, and we’re heartened that although they can’t always get what they want, they find sometimes, to their surprise, that they get what they need.