A Taste of Hunger, 2021.
Directed by Christoffer Boe.
Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Charlie Gustafsson, Katrine Greis-Rosenthal, Dag Malmberg, Nicolas Bro, Flora Augusta, August Vinkel, Maj-Britt Mathiesen, Rasmus Hammerich, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, and Louise Skov.
A couple sacrifice everything to achieve the highest possible accolade in the culinary world – a Michelin star.
Can you have it all without the hypothetical “all” falling apart? That’s what’s on the mind of director co-writer and director Christoffer Boe (collaborating with Tobias Lindholm) with A Taste of Hunger, which could be a disappointment for some expecting a full-on restaurant drama with an insightful look into the culinary world.
At most, there are some mouthwatering, up-close meal preparation scenes at a moment where Carsten (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau putting intense work capturing the character’s obsessively ambitious traits) eviscerates an employee, subsequently firing him for screwing up. He takes this world seriously and isn’t afraid to scold his young children even if they so much as knock a bottle of sauce over in the kitchen. Dedication to his work comes at the expense of being a gentle and properly caring father and an attentive husband to Maggie (a terrific Katrine Greis-Rosenthal making the most of some of the cliché scenarios her character is thrust into).
Instead, A Taste of Hunger is a family drama comprised of an urgent present-day situation where Carsten is having his staff prepare a meal for a Michelin member in hopes of his establishment receiving a coveted honorary star, so deep into catering to the dining hotshot that he is oblivious to a letter directed at his attention consisting of one line that states Maggie is in love with another man. When the meal is incorrectly prepared, Maggie sets out on an odyssey into the night, searching for the food expert to plead forgiveness and re-invite him to the restaurant. However, she is also aware that someone is trying to spill the beans on her affair, using the time away from the restaurant to confront the slimy Frederik (Charlie Gustafsson playing a despicable man to great effectiveness even while working from an underwritten part) about their falling out.
As such, flashbacks also unfold touching on several key events ranging from how Carsten and Maggie met, hitting it off talking about food and their drive in life, to creating their restaurant while trying to reassure two children that they will come first, family gatherings filled with tension, and of course, the inevitable collapse of this family dynamic. To the film’s credit, it’s always well-acted (while appropriately drowning in moody lighting) and surprisingly gives more time to Maggie. However, it is disappointing that the role basically comes down to being blackmailed. There’s a chance it would work better if the film spent more time exploring Frederik in the past, but as is, characters feel underdeveloped.
Still, as wobbly written, the point is gotten across. Even when A Taste of Hunger feels manufactured with forced drama and trauma, the central couple of Carsten and Maggie do feel flawed and real and believably portrayed. There’s also a tiny shift in the third act giving their daughter Chloe (Flora Augusta) some important beats that not only work but feel like they should have been further expanded on. Once A Taste for Hunger reaches the end of its journey in flashbacks, the drama that remains is far more raw and gripping. Oddly enough, the story ties everything up a little too neatly for such a bleak series of mistakes and decisions rather than continue with that momentum. While good and eminently watchable, one could say the movie itself went through a few errors in preparation. It’s not worthy of a Michelin star
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com