June 28, 2005


Since I moved to San Francisco three months ago, Amy and I have sorely missed our weekly movie nights. Last week I was in LA for a couple days and we indulged in not one, but two, Gerard Depardieu costume dramas, Vatel and Bon Voyage. Vatel, literally a visual feast, was by far our favorite of the two, with Depardieu portraying the title character, a Louis XIV-era steward with the resources of Martha Stewart and the cachet of Farnsworth Bentley. Vatel's client is an impoverished prince hoping to impress his guests, Louis XIV and entourage, with all the pageantry and pleasure his signature--if not his coffer--can afford. Uma Thurman plays the object of Vatel's adoration. The fuzzy plot and lukewarm chemistry are left in the dust by the gorgeous displays of Vatel's skill. Whether going behind-the-scenes at Vatel's fireworks spectacle or following him as he works his way through the vast kitchen, here blowing a vase made of sugar, there inventing a new dessert, the camera catches every fascinating historical detail. Bon Voyage, on the other hand, was a snoozer and barely made any impression worth sharing here. --Kim

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