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Monday, March 3

The Taste of Others

Attraction is a tricky matter that does not follow any written rules and is hardly ever triggered by mutual taste. In fact, this movie is a woman's way of questioning the uncertainty of love and how an apparently well-built couple sharing the same interests and chemistry functions as compared to the dilemma an intellectual actress feels towards the affections of a tasteless businessman. Once again, this is a classical French story of the pursuit of love and happiness, directed by Agnès Jaoui who co-writes, stars and directs a movie on the tasteless/tasteful choices we make where love is concerned. The Taste of Others is a witty comedy of manners that has humour, style and an unexpected charm that sneaks up on the viewer, making him relate to the characters in an intimate, unprecedented manner. It is the kind of movie that makes you feel at ease with your own limitations and easily grasps the permutations of love.

Happiness is a merely a state of mind and love is uncorked in the most unpredicted stories that sometimes catch you unprepared. It is true that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, yet there is a common code people follow when assessing the things and people around them, in terms of taste and, as a a rule, they surround themselves by objects and friends to their liking, with whom they share the same literary, artistic, moral, philosophical tastes and life style. And it has been real for as long we can remember and much to our own manner of concealing it, we have been deconstructing ourselves and others forever, mentally forcing them to climb our own Procrustean bed.

When chemistry speaks less in words and more in gazes, Frank Moreno, the bodyguard, loses himself in the eyes of Manie, the waitress, and we instantly place our faith in their love, secretly hoping for a happy ending. At the same time, we are not even remotly moved by Jean-Jacques Castella (Jean-Pierre Bacri), a wealthy middle-aged industrialist, who falls for the playful charm of acting and its talented muse, Clara Devaux (Anne Alvaro). Physically unattractive, in their 40s, the two of them share nothing but the former's desire to learn English and Clara's teaching out of financial needs. Though it is even funnier how, at first, without the acting factor that brings out the best in the woman and touches the man's sensitivity, the two of them politely dismiss each other, barely acknowledging their presence and individuality. He is married to a decorator with a passion for dogs and floral patterns who treats him as a sick person, in need of constant advice and nagging. When he buys the abstract painting of one of Clara's friends out of remorse -he makes nasty comments on the sexual options of the artist- the wife emasculates him once more by taking the painting down and throwing it. Castella, traditionalist, narrow-minded and philistine, becomes more and more infatuated with Clara, writing her a poem that leaves the woman speechless and unable to share his interest. Still, he pursues her and her artistic circle of friends to the restaurant where his bodyguard Frank has eyes rather for Manie, the bartender, than for his boss's well-being. Love changes Castella from bourgeois to bohemian in tastes and preoccupations as the two worlds begin to overlap and Clara's intial repulsion towards the businessman softly turns into authentic feelings. The business deal is settled, Frank is free of contract and we watch him unable to commit to Manie, turning around and heading for a new stage in his life- her independence and life choices are too unbearable for him as she doesn't fit his image of the perfect wife.

And we are left wondering about the untold stories in every pair of eyes we meet in the street and about the unforseen manner in which love defines us in our complexity, confusion and tastes -for love is the binder between worlds apart and hearts unlocked, working its magic in mysterious ways .

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