Seeking out the

5000 greatest films

in a century of cinema

Haute Cuisine
Les saveurs du Palais

Directed by Christian Vincent
Produced by Philippe Rousselet and Etienne Comar
Screenplay by Etienne Comar Screenplay by Christian Vincent Story by Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch
With: Catherine Frot, Arthur Dupont, Jean d'Ormesson, Hippolyte Girardot, Jean-Marc Roulot, Philippe Uchan, Laurent Poitrenaux, Hervé Pierre, Brice Fournier, Roch Leibovici, Thomas Chabrol, Arly Jover, and Joe Sheridan
Cinematography: Laurent Dailland
Editing: Monica Coleman
Music: Gabriel Yared
Runtime: 95 min
Release Date: 19 September 2012
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
Color: Color
Les Saveurs du Palais tells the true story of Danièle Delpeuch, the first and only woman to serve as private chef to the French president. At first glance this appears to be one of those quirky movies about a commoner who is thrown into a world of power and prestige but winds up teaching a lesson the higher-ups.  No mater if it’s The Kings Speech or The Beautician and the Beast, we usually know how movies like this are going to play out. But where most British and American filmmakers accentuate the comedy and/or pathos in stories of this ilk, the French often take a less predictable approach. Director Christian Vincent (1994’s La Separation) focuses this true story on the personal, internal experience of Hortense Laborie (the fictional character based on Delpeuch), rather than the exaggerated, fish-out-of-water circumstances of her situation. As a result, the film plays as a character study, with almost non of the expected scenes. Catherine Frot's lead performances enables us to understand what makes Hortense tick yet still presents her as a bit of an enigma, especially in scenes that show her after her royal assignment. This is not a big film that covers major themes, nor is it a disposable comedy designed to kill a pleasant hour and half. The movie gives us a window into one woman's experience with food and politics and, like a good meal, it stays present in memory for a while after consumption.