" Now there’s something you don’t see every day "
— Kathy Bates, Titanic

MRQE Top Critic

Noi Albinoi

Mystery and ambivalence about this Bleak portrait of isolation are amplified on DVD —Marty Mapes (DVD review...)

Noi the Albino spends winter in Iceland alone

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The Taste of Others is a surprisingly good movie just released by Miramax on DVD. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000, but that didn’t seem to help its popularity. It still lives on in relative obscurity, waiting to be discovered.

The film takes place in modern France, among the world of artists and actors, businessmen and bartenders. Six characters populate the film (along with several minor characters), and their stories overlap and intertwine. By the end, we come to know each character and why his or her life is changing.

Entitled to a Taste

Miramax sneaks The Taste of Others onto DVDThe film’s title is surprisingly apt, even in translation. It carries several meanings, all of which fit the film’s conflicts. For example, one of the characters is Angelique (Anne Le Ny), an interior decorator who is only capable of one style. She is completely, neurotically inflexible and insists on imposing her taste on her clients.

The decorator’s husband, Castella (Jean-Pierre Bacri), feels trapped by the chaotic floral patterns that adorn every fabric in their house, and he sets out in search of a taste of something different, a taste of someone else.

He develops a crush on a local actress, Clara (Anne Alvaro), and when he starts to break away from his wife’s oppressive tastes, his new sense of style is influenced by Clara and her friends — it’s the notion that the taste of others can affect one’s own tastes.

Art

These multiple subplots may sound boring to some. Indeed, the film is a moderately-paced drama. But The Taste of Others is the type of movie you watch mostly for the acting and the character development, both of which are outstanding. The Taste of Others is a work of dramatic art to be appreciated and savored, not merely a story to be rushed through in anticipation of the climax.

The Taste of Others gives credit to six screenwriters. Ordinarily, that might be a warning sign that the film is sloppy and unfocused. But in this case, you’ll notice that the screenwriters are all actors in the film, suggesting a collaborative effort among a troupe of dedicated friends. The result is a cast of characters that are fully rounded, a web of relationships that is intricate and not at all contrived.

The Taste of Others is a quiet, unassuming film. It doesn’t shout to you with movie stars or a big marketing campaign. It’s something you’ll have to search out in the foreign section at the video store. But when you’re ready, give it a look. It’ll be there, waiting to be discovered.

Picture and Sound

The Miramax DVD offers a solid, good-looking picture, presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio (2.35:1), and the soundtrack is crisp and clear. I would not expect less from a movie that’s barely two years old, but it is worth mentioning in a DVD review. The surround sound is not particularly impressive because the film is mostly dialogue, but the film’s lonely music fills the room when it plays.

DVD Extras

As with many recent Miramax DVDs, The Taste of Others doesn’t offer much beyond the movie itself. It has some sneak peeks at other Miramax DVDs, and French and English language options, but beyond that, nothing.

Granted, The Taste of Others isn’t big enough to demand a special edition DVD, but it would have been nice to see how the writers and actors came together. Since the film is an ensemble picture from screenplay to final cut, I’d like to have known what the group dynamics were like, and what other projects this troupe has worked on together.

Conclusion

The DVD undoubtedly offers a better picture than any VHS copy you may find, but this is the kind of film that transcends its presentation. If you can only find The Taste of Others on video, rent it anyway. If you do find a DVD copy, all the better. In either case, The Taste of Others is an artful, intricate drama worthy of your attention.