The Taste of Things
Benoît Magimel and Juliet Binoche in The Taste of Things

Director Trần Anh Hùng cares deeply about the sound in his movies. That’s why he decided not to have a soundtrack for his 1885 French romantic drama The Taste of Things.

“The sound is the flavor of the picture. The picture has its beauty, but the flavor of it comes from the sound. When the sound is right, then everything is more vivid,” Trần said in a Q&A following a screening of the film at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Director Trần Anh Hùng on Making The Taste of Things

“Normally I like using music in film. For me, it’s something that is quite marvelous. But for this movie, I felt that I didn’t need it, because after the sound editing, I had the feeling that if I put some music, it would bring something that is a little bit fabricated — and because I wanted it to be very real.”

Instead of music, audiences hear the hiss of meat sizzling in the pan, fragrant concoctions bubbling, the clink of glasses toasting, birds chirping, and the many other delightfully simple sounds of everyday life in a 19th century French kitchen.

Starring Juliet Binoche as Eugénie the cook and Benoît Magimel as Dodin, her boss, The Taste of Things luxuriates in the harmonious relationship they have in the kitchen — which stands in contrast to Eugénie’s trepidation about accepting his proposal.

The Vietnamese-born, Paris-based director is also known for 1993’s The Scent of Green Papaya and 2010’s Norwegian Wood.

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In keeping with his desire for the genuine, Trần chose to film the actors cooking in real time and to use only actual, edible food rather than props.

“Everything that you see on the screen is real, and everything that we cook for the film, we ate it. Absolutely everything,” Trần said.

“For the crew, it was unusual, because they have done some movies with food, most of the time it’s fake to make it very beautiful. You add some different things in it to make it have different texture, color, everything. But here, for this movie, I didn’t want that. Because it’s not about the beauty of the food. But it’s more about showing man and woman at work in that kind of harmony.”

The Taste of Things arrives in theaters on Feb. 9.

You can watch the full interview with Trần Anh Hùng and costume designer Nu Yên-Khê Tran below.

Main Image: Benoît Magimel and Juliet Binoche in The Taste of Things