The Taste of Others
Maybe we don't really fall in love with other people--maybe we fall in love with ourselves, and the qualities those people bring out in us. That's the notion at the center of The Taste of Others, writer/actor Agnès Jaoui's Oscar-nominated directorial debut. Castella (co-writer Jean-Pierre Bacri), a wealthy, married French industrialist, develops a crush on an aging actress Clara (Anne Alvaro) when he sees her perform Shakespeare; he is startled to discover that she's the English tutor he just fired. Castella resumes lessons and finds himself drawn not only to Clara but to her bohemian world of culture; Clara is mortified by the moony attentions of a man she regards as an uncool vulgarian. She confides in her best friend, Manie (Jaoui), a bartender who deals pot in between her assignations with Castella's chauffeur and bodyguard (Alain Chabat and Gérard Lanvin, respectively). The whole business has an Altman-esque shaggy realism to it, with lives changed forever by tiny moments. Others, in French with English subtitles, is low-key but at times deadpan hilarious (as when midlife-crisis-plagued Castella drags his helpers along on some grim, awkward boys' nights out), and the film's considerable emotional power sneaks up on you.