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Vatel (2000)

Cast: Feodor Atkine, Feodor Atkine, Hywel Bennett, more...
Director: Roland Joffé, Roland Joffé
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Rating:
Studio: Miramax
Genre: Foreign, Costume Drama/Period Piece, UK
Running Time: 103 min.
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Synopsis
A man hoping to win the favor of a King finds that his heart has gotten in the way in this lavishly-produced comedy-drama. In 1671, the Prince du Conde (Julian Glover) is a figure of French nobility who is deep in debt and suffering from gout. Hoping to buoy his fortunes and his reputation, du Conde wants to win command of the French Army in an anticipated conflict with Holland. When du Conde receives word from the Marquis de Lauzun (Tim Roth) that that King Louis XIV (Julian Sands) wishes to spend three days at his estate, du Conde is determined to pull out all the stops, and he asks Francois Vatel (Gerard Depardieu) to make the arrangements. Vatel is a master chef with a genius for arranging spectacular entertainments, and he is determined that this will be a weekend that the king will always remember. But that's before Vatel meets Anne de Montausier (Uma Thurman), a lovely courtesan traveling with the king's party. Anne is the king's new mistress, but that doesn't stop Vatel from falling in love with her, and he is determined to win her heart. Produced in both English and French language versions, Vatel was chosen to open the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

good not great by alexjb April 24, 2006 - 9:02 AM PDT
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i agree with the other reviewer who pointed out that there are some serious gaps in the plot here. from some reviews, i was expecting more emphasis on the food, so thought i'd write a bit of clarification - this movie is definitely about behind-the-scenes intrigue; how the politics of the time affected everyone from the king, to the kitchen-boy who gets picked out as the king's brother's new "valet".

so, the food is in there, but it's not really about The Food, you know? it's not like you can just lean back and watch a parade of delicacies roll past you. also, the plot weaknesses - poor insight into Vatel's motivations; confusion over why Uma becomes so taken with him, etc etc, definitely detract.

Opulent feasts, so-so plot by hneline1 March 16, 2004 - 12:10 AM PST
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6 out of 6 members found this review helpful
Vatel is a good period piece with beautiful costuming and gorgeous locations. What I love best is that the story focuses on the "behind the scenes" in the 17th century, so we see those opulent feasts and grandiose entertainments from a worker's point of view, rather than as a courtier. I love those glimpses of the kitchen where dozens of helpers are rushing around preparing things while Vatel walks about approving or guiding. Of course, I wonder how accurate those depictions are since our hero seems to have read "Best Practices of Modern Management" and who knows if those concepts were applicable in that society back then.

Unfortunately, as fascinating as it is to see the details of daily life and to see the planning that goes into taking care of the decadent nobles, the story doesn't match the presentation. Gerard Depardieu as Francois Vatel is an excellent chamberlain and Uma Thurman as the lady Anne de Montanier is a good courtier, but I don't see the chemistry between them. Also, the ending is abrupt and the motivation for Vatel's actions is not developed well enough to convince me. I definitely recommend this movie if you're interested in costuming and feast preparation, but don't expect a world-shattering plot.




GreenCine Member Rating
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(Average 7.07)
43 Votes
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