Thursday, October 23, 2014

760. Babettes gaestebud/Babette's Feast (1987)

Running Time: 102 minutes
Directed By: Gabriel Axel
Written By: Gabriel Axel, from novel by Isak Dinesen
Main Cast: Stephane Audran, Bodil Kjer, Birgitte Federspiel, Jarl Kulle, Jean-Philippe Lafont
Click here to view the trailer

So I've FINALLY got myself caught up on Louie and WHAT A SHOW! I must own it now, because it's going to be one of those shows that I'm going to want to just pop in and revisit a lot, I can tell. I was literally sad to be done with it and honestly, I think subconsciously I was delaying finishing it, because I didn't want it to be over. I've never seen such a fluid mix of both comedy and drama in my life, where the comedy was just as funny as the drama was serious & effective. I could write a full scale review on the two part "In the Woods" episodes - I'm talking one of those reviews where I theorize and go on for paragraph after paragraph. Likewise for the triple part "Pamela" episodes. Pamela Adlon was AMAZING in this show and I'm left to wonder how close to her real self she's being. Anyway, yeah - it's a fantastic show that streams on Netflix and comes with my highest of recommendations.

In other news, more BOOK related news, I've been tinkering around with the final forty or so films and I have to say there's a lot of stuff that looks like it's going to be a chore to sit through. I'm aiming to be done with this 100 by the end of the year, which means I really need to kick it into a higher gear and just get these done. I've definitely lost SOME of my passion for this project in 2014, but am trying to chug along and just get into the home stretch, where I feel it will be easier once the finish line is more visible. I WILL NOT quit, I promise - I just ask that you bear with me if it takes me a while to get there. I've tried to replace some of the stuff that looks like it's going to be bad with some stuff that I think looks like it's going to be good, to try and balance things out and give me some movies that I can actually look forward to, as opposed to dreading which I've been doing a lot of lately. Enter "Babette's Feast"...


I watched this on Tuesday night, but just didn't feel like writing last night, so I put it off until tonight. I didn't think you'd mind. Anyway, speaking of chores this was one, however, I think I have myself to blame for not liking this one. Read on...

To be honest, I kind of dozed in and out of this one (I don't mean fell in and out of sleep, I just mean I my mind wandered heavily), so to relay the plot in full is going to be tough for me. I could peruse the Wikipedia plot summary and refresh my memory, but I'd rather be honest and just recount what I remember. Basically the film is set in this tiny village in Denmark, where these two sisters, Filippa (Kjer) and Martine (Federspiel) have lived all their life. The movie is set in the 19th century, with the first half introducing the characters and how they came to have a maid, despite being less than wealthy and the second half deals with a feast that their maid, named Babette (Audran), prepares for them, prior to what they think will be her departure. Upon arriving to serve them, she tells them of a lottery ticket that a friend of hers, in Paris, renews for her every year, If she were to ever hit it, she would be 10,000 francs richer. Well, you don't just get a piece of information like that, so of course she hits it and her final wish before taking off is to cook one large, meal for them - why? I couldn't tell you.

I'm not even going to try to stretch that into more sentences, because really, that's about all I can recall. Seriously, did I miss something? I must have! Upon perusal of that very same Wikipedia plot summary, it doesn't look like I've missed anything, really. There's the courting of the two sisters by a cavalry officer and an opera singer, but are those really key pieces of this plot? I mean, it all sort of revolves around the maid doesn't it? And her big feast, which I still don't get the significance of. Why did she insist on cooking for them? What were her intentions? Did the meal symbolize something? I feel like the guy watching a room full of laughing people and I didn't hear the joke.

I had to take a moment to look up Stephane Audran, as I knew I knew that name and sure enough she appeared in a few films that I actually took to - "Le Boucher" (a "Ten Worth Mentioning" selection) and "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" (one that I'd like to revisit someday). I remember her being fairly attractive in those movies and here...not so much. Did she not age well, or was she just made up to look older and less appealing? Hopefully the latter! The rest of the cast was fine, but like I said, unless I totally missed something, the plot lacks serious substance. Look, I'm not trying to send mix messages here - I'm sincerely blaming myself for this one. I tend to look forward to films that have a Criterion release, as Criterion has always shown a quality palate, so I have no reason to believe that this film was fine and it's me who was having an off night. I'll stop there, as I feel I'm starting to just repeat myself. Approach this one with caution, as I found it to be hideously boring and without substance, despite fine acting, camera work and real sense that there was something good buried in there somewhere.

RATING: 3/10  Can't go any higher, because I just didn't like it that much at all. I'll go a few notches for the few points I mentioned and because ultimately I feel I'm the culprit here.


October 23, 2014  10:46pm


  1. Good morning Andrew...
    I'm not sure if this will come out as an agreement or a disagreement.. So let's just get on with it, see how it pans out and looks like.
    Your analogy of feeling like the only person in the room not getting the joke seems good. I kept feeling I had missed something big in understanding what the film was supposed to show / teach us. I wondered if it was some sort of metaphor I'd missed... Was the feast supposed to represent some sort of religious conversion? Was serving all that great food to that bunch of misery guts supposed to be like an evangelist preacher bringing the love of Christ or the word of God to the unbeliever? I'm not sure I believe that myself..
    The meaning always seemed to be just out of reach.

    Perhaps there was no great hidden depth.. One person on IMDb compared it to a Garrison Keeler monologue... It was 'just there'.. sketching us a very simple story with well observed characters.. Someone else said it was a simple story of sacrifice and repayment of kindness.. Not convinced by that either.
    So that seems like a good solid agree..

    But I walked away from this having had a pleasant time.. it slipped along quite nicely thank you. Not one to get on the phone to someone and say 'You must see this..', but not at all bored.. and despite the "I don't think I quite got it" thoughts.. most certainly not a 'why did I bother' film, or a 'What is this doing in The Book' film either.
    I know I'm liable to sometimes over analyse, overthink things.. and I suspect this may be one of those occasions. If I give up trying to find a hidden depth that may not be there and just go with it .. I think I'd come up with a good 6+, maybe 7.
    So have I disagreed with you or not?

    1. Well in giving it a 6+ or 7, I'd say we disagreed, but a very quaint disagreement and not a "can't believe you didn't like Casablanca", monumental disagreement. I'm glad I wasn't alone in the "not getting it" department and that others agree that it just "was there".


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