Elephant Sow signs his first feature film “A Taste of Happiness” about the cultural and acting meeting of Japan and France: not only culinary traditions meet, but also the views of two different families and stories, apparently separated by an unbridgeable cultural chasm. distance.
thread of fate
Gabriel Carwin (Gerard Depardieu) – the protagonist of one of the many films dedicated to the complex world of chefs: here, however, the love of cooking and the great competition associated with it, they become a vehicle for telling the story of the meeting of different cultures and worlds.bringing up a topic already raised by the director Elephant Sow in the previous short Grenouille d’Hiver (2011) always to the end Gerard Depardieu and Japanese actress Eriko Takeda.
Story Taste of happiness it follows celebrity chef Carvin at a moment of great professional success, but also at a moment of apathy and detachment towards his family; Firstly towards his wife Louise (Sandrine Bonner), but also in relation to the eldest son jean (Bastien Bouillon), who is trying to follow in his footsteps, having not received due appreciation from his father.
To support and encourage Gabriel, we find his friend for life. Rufus (Pierre Richard) and younger son Nino (Rod Paradot) – the only one in the family who caught the great suffering behind the visible patina of cynicism.
Journey into the unknown
In this initially highly dramatic scenario, the turning point would be Gabriel’s heart attack, an event that would force him to face his own demons and misfortune; in fact, it is through a seemingly accidental memory that the celebrity chef will recall a severe defeat suffered in his youth, and a curiosity to discover the secret of umami, the so-called fifth taste – in addition to salty, sweet, bitter, spicy.
Therefore, under mostly very difficult physical conditions, Gabriel will travel to Japan with the sole support of his friend Rufus in search of a Japanese chef. Tetsuichi Morita (Kyozo Nagatsuka), who defeated him in 1978 thanks to the “secret” of umami. The meeting with the chef, who also works in a modest restaurant, will also be the sanctioning of a meeting between two families: first of all, with the daughter of Tetsuichi. Do you smoke (very good Eriko Takeda), and also with a young niece.
Many threads that intertwine
The gist of the whole story Taste of happiness, like the essence of the film, lies precisely in the physical (and symbolic) arrival of a French chef in Japan for the purpose of meeting/encountering the other and the unknown, at a time when all hope of happiness seems to be lost; and perhaps it is in this game between drama and comedy, a taste for tragedy and irony, that director Sow manages to give the viewer a very complex and articulate vision of the world. Just like umami, which is neither sweet nor savory, which is superior to other tastes but has a certain scope, Sow’s work seems to want to speak about the myriad nuances of the human experience without negating them in any way. From this point of view, Gabriel’s experience will match that of Tetsuichi, but will also determine the meeting of the youngest son Nino and the granddaughter of a Japanese chef, while – in parallel – the eldest son Jean will have to bear the brunt of the restaurant.
A bit like Babylon (2006) author Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu different threads are intertwined, wanting to suggest that there is meaning even where everything seems absurd and without the slightest hope; threads and characters which, however, would need further plans for in-depth study and which are instead resolved by moving from the original dramatic atmosphere to the lightness of brilliant comedy, in a way that is perhaps too poignant and sudden.
Then a good test Taste of happinesswhich will make the heart of the viewer smile, but to complete the numerous sentences and narrative directions, more attention and care would be needed.
Original name: Umami
Director: Elephant Sow
Country/year: France, Japan / 2022
Type: Comedy, Drama
Throw: Pierre Richard, Bastien Bouillon, Gérard Depardieu, Sandrine Bonner, Antoine Duléry, Rod Parado, Sumire, Zinedine Soualem, Akira Emoto, Alexander Schuster, Assa Silla, Eriko Takeda, Francis Ressort, Kyoko Koizumi, Kyozo Nagatsuka, Mame Yamada, Marceau Ebersolt, Misuzu Hiratsuka, Elephant Sow, You
Screenplay: Elephant Sow
Photo: Denis Louis
Assembly: Elephant Sow
Music: Frederic Holiszewski
Director: Yann Yoshikazu Guyer, Evelyn Inuzuka, Lucas Oliver Frost, Elephant Sow, Frank Shuang
Production house: Umami no Tabi, Slony Pictures, Sunny Side Up Never, Oliver-Frost Films
Distribution: Film Required
Release date: 08/31/2023