- Colin Fraser
A TASTE OF HUNGER
THREE AND A HALF STARS A Danish couple decide to open a high-class restaurant with devastating results for their business and their family
DRAMA DENMARK Danish Language #ATASTEOFHUNGER
Starring Katrine Greis-Rosenthal, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Restaurants are excellent locations for redemption stories. They bring together multiple characters, typically creative and highly strung, then leave them to sort out the broiling mess that is life in the pressure cooker of a kitchen, hopefully without burning themselves along the way. The recent BOILING POINT was an exceptional example of what you can do in this space and while A TASTE OF HUNGER doesn’t aim for such edge-of-the-seat thrills, it’s searing stuff nonetheless.
When Danish couple Carsten and Maggie decide to take the plunge and open a high-class restaurant, the table is set for a tasty drama about desire, betrayal and reconciliation. She’s convinced her husband has what it takes to get a Michelin star and together create one of those eateries, the sort where the eye eats first. It’s beautiful, drool-worthy stuff. But when a catering mishap threatens their shot at the big time, one that triggers a second scare threatening their livelihood, their marriage and their family, the couple are forced to take stock. First question: will they sacrifice everything for the coveted star?
Katrine Greis-Rosenthal and Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau anchor the drama with first rate, finely nuanced performances. Everything revolves around them and they’re never less than convincing no matter where their characters take them. And they’re taken to some dark and challenging places. Directed with panache by Christoffer Boe, A TASTE OF HUNGER is a very tactile, visceral experience (as befits a story set in a high-class restaurant). Passion and energy drives the couple and their dreams, and this informs the way Boe brings their world to us. It’s vibrant, exciting.
Rather like dining at Carsten’s restaurant, the film’s enjoyment is tipped heavily toward the first courses. Then, somewhere around the middle of the meal, sensory-overload takes hold and the second half becomes somehow less rewarding, less fulfilling and less, well, tasty. That’s not to say it becomes in any way boring, it doesn’t. Boe sees to that with always engaging performances. But as a series of plot twists propel us toward the big reveal, the story itself become less and less rousing. To stay with food analogies, who remembers the second third of a degustation menu, lost as it is between a sensational opener and the sugar hit of dessert? Same here. It all makes sense but you do find yourself looking beyond the immediate goings-on to a jump-start of espresso.
It doesn’t spoil your appetite, but it does diminish it. Fortunately A TASTE OF HUNGER has enough going on that it remains intriguing throughout, even in the more sluggish scenes, scenes that are propped up by the inbuilt benefit of a redemption story set in a restaurant; the glorious distraction of beautiful food. Michelin-star worthy food. Let your eyes feast.