Cinema Review: Tasting Menu | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, February 22nd, 2020  

Tasting Menu

Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Directed by Roger Gual

Apr 29, 2014 Web Exclusive
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On the last night before it ceases operations, a world-renowned Spanish restaurant opens its doors to the final 30 patrons that will ever eat there. Among the dinner guests are a widow who has brought along her husband’s ashes for a final meal together, a divorced couple that made their reservation a year prior when their relationship was still healthy and – at another table – one of their current paramours, two potential investors who want to franchise the restaurant, and a mysterious gentleman who dines alone in silence. Over the course of the evening, communication lines tangle, romances dwindle and rekindle, friendships blossom, and everyone experiences a night they’re unlikely to forget.

Tasting Menu is an ensemble piece that is about as light as a puff pastry, though far from as mouthwatering. Though the restaurant business is high stakes, director Roger Gual’s film is anything but. For a lot of indie films, that’d be a major criticism; for Tasting Menu, it’s a part of the charm. Watching the story unfold, one gets the immediate sense that everything will be okay. Characters seems like they’ll all land on their feet, no matter the personal turmoil they’re facing, and the promise of the film quickly becomes a light-hearted comedy of errors. Whereas the turbulence between the more core members of the ensemble could lead to dramatic blowups, they remain restrained, allowing the viewer to watch in peace, along for the meal like someone at a laidback picnic in the park.

The setting – a small, 30-diner restaurant – works well. One doesn’t go to a restaurant expecting a stressful dining experience, which is the same way viewers ought to approach this film. No one will cite Tasting Menu as a movie that has broken new ground or explored the human experience in previously untold ways, but neither is there cause to send it back to the kitchen.

Author rating: 6/10

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