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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Tasting Menu (Blu-ray)
Tasting Menu (Blu-ray)
Magnolia Home Entertainment // PG-13 // October 7, 2014 // Region A
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted December 2, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Seemingly right around the time that Chef came to video, another film was released to presumably take advantage of the TLC that Chef provided in food and its enjoyment. But as it turs out, the Catalan film Tasting Menu does have some similarities, there is a complexity to most of the film. Written by Javier Calvo and Roger Gual, the latter of whom directed, the film focuses on a highly popular restaurant that is closing its doors at the height of its popularity. It's most devoted guests return for a final night of dining.

The most familiar face to many will be Fionnula Flanagan (Four Brothers) or even Stephen Rea (The Crying Game) as Walter, local actors like Jan Cornet (The Skin I Live In) can be spotted amongst the patrons. And while Chef shows the food and what it means to father and son, Tasting Menu takes a slightly different tact, showing the various two dozen guests reminiscing about their lives before this last meal of sorts, and their attempts to try and move on with them. There is a "Last Supper" notion to it that is interesting to watch at times.

While the premise is interesting, the execution in Tasting Menu has a lot to be desired. Calvo and Gual want to look at various relationships from an ensemble cast that rely on a cast that can't hold up to it. And of more concern is that Tasting Menu does not seem to know what it wants to be at times. I have seen in more than one area that it is a comedy or even a celebration, but through the first act and for a good portion of the second you would be hard pressed to sense it. Flanagan plays a Countess who takes the remains of her dead husband with her to the restaurant, and a couple who has long since split up have dinner together and see how the other is doing while the meal is coming out. COMEDY!

Moreover, for a film that would presume to try and emphasize the meaning of food in these people's lives, it does not seem to get the same adoration that films like Chef and Big Night accomplish with their treatment of food. And if Tasting Menu cannot get that basic component right off the jump, it does not bode well for the rest of the film. At least when relying on the ensemble to do the work you get decent performances from Flanagan, Cornet and Claudia Bassols, who plays Cornet's ex-girlfriend in the film. But decent is not enough when you are spending time with several different and hollower storylines.

Ultimately, there is promise within Tasting Menu that could make for a film with fewer storylines, more signal and less noise that would make for a good film with food as the centerpiece similar to those that I mentioned before. However, it has flaws in its storytelling and how it tells same, and the result feels likeā€¦some sort of food metaphor to illustrated how disappointing the film turns out to be.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

The AVC encode for Tasting Menu and its high-definition 2.40:1 widescreen presentation is fine, though there are a couple of minor bones to pick. Aside from the whites in the movie being a tad hot, that they are so prevalent makes the choice of white subtitles (admittedly with a black border) a curious one with a dusting of inconvenience. Otherwise, the color palette looks nice, though I would have liked more exteriors of Catalonia. It's a decent disc.

The Sound:

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack for the film is fine, albeit has not that much to do. Directional effects and channel panning are at a minimum though are used enough to convey a level of immersion during the listening experience. Dialogue sounds consistent throughout and is nicely balanced, and overall while Tasting Menu does not get much to do, what it does do is about what one could expect.

Extras:

Not even an after dinner mint amigo.

Final Thoughts:

If Tasting Menu was even the tiniest bit dour more than the film it actually is, then perhaps it would be a nice surprise. But like a lot of other films that underachieve, it starts off intriguing and tails off fast. Technically it is decent though not memorable, and I guess I can understand the lack of extras that come with the disc. It is worth a rental, at best.

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