It’s a double-delightful weekend for Juliette Binoche who stars in theaters with the acclaimed 19th century French period drama “The Taste of Things” while debuting on AppleTV+ in a dramatically different historical epic with “The New Look.”
“Look” in 10 episodes presents dual portraits of the legendary French designers Coco Chanel and Christian Dior coping in very different ways with the Nazi Occupation of Paris during WWII.
Binoche’s Chanel is a driven woman who has created an empire based on clothes and perfume and must now do everything and anything to preserve it.
“Taste,” which won Tran Anh Hùng Best Director at its Cannes’ world premiere last May, is a lush immersion in an extraordinary French chef’s many dishes, all made possible by Binoche’s Eugénie, his long time lover and head of the kitchen.
For Binoche, 59, it was Hùng’s script and past films that made “Taste” so tasty.
“I wanted to work with Tran a long time, he’s one of our best directors. I saw ‘Cyclo’ and ‘The Scent of Green Papaya’ and I love his take on life. As a director he’s very precise, with a very special attention to details.
“That’s the Asian quality,” she said of the Vietnamese-born filmmaker who emigrated to France after the fall of Saigon when he was 12.
“He embraced French culture through food and the writing which is a culinary poem in a way. To embrace that and make it real as actors was our task.
“He wanted me to smile all the time while I was cooking, as a way to show Eugénie’s love for life and softness. He describes himself as being a technical director — and it’s true he was very aware of the position of the camera but he let us be our own people.
“I was forgetting to smile,” she added, “because I was trying to be careful not to burn myself.”
Binoche makes the distinction in constructing the elaborate – and rigorously accurate – dishes, “I’m not a chef. I’m the cook serving the chef who has the idea. I had the analogy of director and actor.
“The director has the idea and as an actor you have to make it alive through your knowledge and sensibility.
“This cook is bringing her experience and sensibility through matter, like vegetables, meat, fish. All the matter that we have been given from the planet. How then do you make it into culinary art and this transition to another place?
“It’s like acting. You have written words and you have to make it truthful, you have to tap into something that’s other. That’s what acting is for me, leaving from higher and going deeper.”
“The Taste of Things” opens Feb. 14