food in the arts










art and food

Laurent Benegui/ 1995/ France/ 95mins

literature and food

Au Petit Margeury


music and food

photography and food

French food

Master chef Hippolyte marks his retirement by holding a stunning feast for friends, family and restaurant patrons on the last night of the old-fashioned family bistro's closure. The many different characters recall their memories and gradually we see their place in the plot. A wonderful ensemble cast, dazzling script and mouth-watering food, whose preparation, cooking and consumption is a consummate art which echoes the classic Babette's Feast (which also starred the luminous Audran). 

One of the major drawbacks of this movie is the number of characters the viewer is expected to keep track of. For a lot of the characters, their relationship to the owners is never completely clear. As a contrast to this, the brother and sister twosome constantly refer to each other as "my brother" or "my sister", painfully spelling out their relationship. As long as you are happy to let it flow over you and not try to remember who was who or who was married to whom, the movie is quite pleasant.

As well as the overhead of keeping track of all these people, we never really get to know anyone very well. The little snippets of people here and there are mildly interesting but vaguely dissatisfying.

And why are they throwing a party for their son's friends rather than their own friends? The implication seems to be that these are their friends also but it seems a strange mix with no-one from their generation present, not even the wife's gossiping partner. Perhaps this is just another example of movie makers' fascination with youth.

This is less a food movie and more an ensemble cast set in a restaurant. As such, Au Petit Marguery is a pleasant film with mildly diverting characters, lacking the soul of Big Night and missing the sumptuousness of Eat, Drink, Man Woman.

  Le tournevis infiniment petit