Tasting Menu


Reviewed by: Rebecca Naughten

"As is often the case in ensemble films, certain storylines are better served than others and the constant juxtapositions unavoidably highlight that."

Set on the picturesque Costa Brava, and paying homage to the region's association with deconstructivist gastronomy (as epitomised by Ferran Adrià's restaurant, elBulli), this breezy comedy dips in and out of the personal dramas unfolding within a celebrated restaurant on its closing night.

Chef Mar (Vicenta Ndongo) needs to recharge her creative batteries and is juggling the stresses of the kitchen - and the need to close the restaurant with a surprise final dish - with trying to please her partner Max (Andrew Tarbet), who sees a new business opportunity for them in Japan. Their guests for the evening include two competing Japanese investors (Togo Igawa and Akihiko Serikawa), who find themselves saddled with a chatterbox interpreter (Marta Torné) who doesn't speak Japanese, an Irish countess (Fionnula Flanagan) with her late husband's ashes in tow, a possible restaurant critic (Stephen Rea) who conducts secretive conversations on the phone, and a divorced couple (Jan Cornet and Claudia Bassols) who had secured the table while they were still married but are unwilling to give up the reservation (or each other).

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The latter pairing becomes the central axis for the other unfolding dramas and comic misunderstandings, but the film has been constructed so as to mirror the form of a tasting menu - we get a small serving of one storyline before being presented with a plate of differing content.

As is often the case in ensemble films, certain storylines are better served than others and the constant juxtapositions unavoidably highlight that. For example, Fionnula Flanagan and Stephen Rea almost seem to have wandered in from different films - and that isn't an issue of language, as a lot of the cast switch between English, Catalan, Castilian Spanish, and Japanese, but rather of tone.

Although, to be fair, the mix of comedic registers and tones may be intentional and a further extension of the tasting menu-type structure of the film. But while the aim of this style of cooking is to take familiar ingredients and create something imaginatively unexpected, so as to surprise the diner, the ingredients utilised by this Tasting Menu remain wholly familiar in both form and end results.

Overall, a pleasant enough concoction, but not as memorable or original as the gastronomical experience it depicts.

Reviewed on: 18 Mar 2014
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Tasting Menu packshot
On closing night of an acclaimed restaurant, the lives of the final set of guests intertwine as the courses are served.

Director: Roger Gual

Writer: Javier Calvo, Roger Gual

Starring: Cornet, Claudia Bassols, Vicenta Ndongo, Andrew Tarbet, Fionnula Flanagan, Stephen Rea, Marta Torné, Togo Igawa, Akihiko Serikawa

Year: 2013

Runtime: 84 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: Spain


Viva 2014

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