If you enjoy cooking movies and French cuisine and culture, you will most likely enjoy French films about food, even if they are dubbed in English! While it may appear at first sight that these films are primarily about cooking and food, many of them contain underlying themes that make them far more than merely entertaining for foodies. If you’re looking for something to watch next, have a look at our selection of the finest French cuisine flicks.
1. Haute Cuisine
Hortense Laborie, a truffle farmer in Périgord, is spirited away by government officials to the Élysée Palace in Paris, where she will be the private chef for President François Mitterrand if she accepts the mission (she isn’t given a choice). Mitterrand, who dislikes flowery, sophisticated food, assigns Laborie (a standout turn by Catherine Frot) the task of serving supper the way Granny used to serve it. To you and me, that’s still good dining in France.
Laborie’s power struggles with a competing chef at Mitterrand are intercut with Laborie running a canteen for workers on a remote Antarctic island at an undisclosed time in the future. The film, which is based on Danièle Mazet-memoirs, Delpeuch’s has a charming tone: it’s part kitchen politics, part comedy, and part tribute to a much-loved past – but it’s mostly a romance, with food as the key heartthrob. From acquiring the finest ingredients to researching the tiniest nuances of an ancient recipe, this movie about chef in France wonderfully depicts the serious passion with which the French approach all things gastronomic. It’s quite tasty.
2. Kings Of Pastry
You’ll appreciate Kings of Pastry if you’ve ever peered through your fingers as a piece of wagyu beef is cut on MasterChef only to discover it’s still raw, or cringed at a mushy bottom on Bake Off. This documentary (part in English, part in French) follows a group of 16 pastry chefs as they compete for the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France (essentially, a master craftsman — the title exists in a wide range of areas, from cooking to lace-making). However, a word of caution: it will have no effect on your blood pressure. It’s an enthralling, if nerve-wracking, journey through intricate sugar creations to the dilemma of how to dress a cream puff – complete with some horrible mishaps along the way. The chefs appear to be ready to drop by the time it is revealed who has and has not been successful, having worked so hard towards their goal. If you like this documentary, we also have recommendations on the best baking shows on Hulu for you.
3. Entre Les Bras
Chef Michel Bras prepares to take over the reigns of his three Michelin star restaurant to his son, Sébastien, in this quiet and contemplative documentary.
We learn about their desire for excellence and their family dynamics as we follow their daily lives in the gorgeous surroundings of Plateau de l’Aubrac, where they operate at their eponymous restaurant in Laguiole, south-west France.
Sébastien’s grandparents, who were dairy farmers (as a child, Séba would drink the milk straight from the cow), and Sébastien’s two children, who are already holding kitchen knives and preparing the vegetables for supper, are also presented.
From the beginning, the actual skill of their job is obvious as we watch, transfixed, the exquisite dressing of a plate that appears more like a modernist painting than a simple plate of food, and with an array of rare herbs that sound like they came straight from an apothecary’s cabinet.
4. Le Chef
This French cooking movie is more about food culture than it is about cuisine. It’s a look at one chef’s connection with his job and with himself. It’s a little slow to start, but it’s quite inspiring. Le Chef, like much French cinema, is understated yet powerful. Le Chef is the film for you if you want to learn more about food from a French perspective (without having to live in France). It will make the conclusion of your dinner taste even better!
5. Julie & Julia
You can’t go wrong with Julia Child as your mentor. Julie & Julia – one of French films about food, based on a true story of a lady who learned to follow her goals by leaping in with both feet. Julie & Julia is based on a moving story about an amateur cookbook writer who decides to try every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering The Art Of French Cooking. Child is played by Meryl Streep, and Powell is played by Amy Adams. Any aspiring cook would love this encouraging film!
6. La Grande Bouffe
This memorable and outrageous film (released in 1973) helped establish the sulfurous reputation of Italian director Marco Ferreri. It shows four food lovers locking themselves in a villa for what they call a “gastronomic seminar”, but in fact committing collective suicide by eating until death ensues. The four main actors have kept their real first names to interpret their characters in this film. The film is in fact a ferocious critique of the consumer society, of the alienation it brings by leading to abuses and excesses of all kinds, up to self-destruction.
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Chocolat (French pronunciation: [Sokola]) is a 2000 comedy-drama film directed by Lasse Hallström, based on the 1999 novel Chocolat by English novelist Joanne Harris. Chocolat, adapted by screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs, tells the story of Vianne Rocher, played by Juliette Binoche, who arrives with her six-year-old daughter, Anouk, in the fictional French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes at the start of Lent. She sets up a tiny chocolate shop. Soon, she and her chocolate have a variety of interesting effects on the residents of this repressed French village.
On December 22, 2000, the film had a limited release in the United States before being widely available on January 19, 2001. The drama received great reviews from critics, who praised the actor performances, storyline, and Rachel Portman’s score. Many awards were given to the picture, including those for its writing, director, acting, and soundtrack. At the 73rd Academy Awards, it got five nominations, including Best Picture. For her performance, Binoche received a European Film Award for Best Actress, while Dench received a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2001.
Ratatouille is a computer-animated comedy film released by Walt Disney Pictures in 2007. It was developed by Pixar Animation Studios. It was written and directed by Brad Bird, who succeeded Jan Pinkava as Pixar’s director in 2005, and produced by Brad Lewis, based on an original idea by Bird, Pinkava, and Jim Capobianco. The title alludes to the French cuisine ratatouille, which is served at the conclusion of the film, as well as the main character’s species, a rat. The story is set in Paris and follows Remy, a rat who aspires to be a chef and attempts to attain his objective by forging an alliance with the garbage boy of a Parisian restaurant.
French cuisine has existed for millennia and continues to thrive. Are you feeling motivated to cook after viewing these French films about food? Check out Thecookingmovie for more recipes to help you get started!