A perfect film to end the year, or to start a new one. Due to its mouthwatering runtime, post-film dinner plans are highly recommended.
For over 50 years, the venerable French restaurant La Maison Troisgros has held three Michelin stars. That’s nearly as long as the career of filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, age 93, who embedded himself at the restaurant for several weeks in the spring of 2022. Wiseman has spent his career documenting the inner workings of institutions. The bulk of his work is set in the U.S., but he has long been drawn to France — spending a few youthful years in Paris in the 1950s and more recently, making the city his home base. For this new film, he travels to the small French town of Roanne, north west of Lyon.
The phrase menus-plaisirs translates to “small pleasures” — and this film is rich with them. Wiseman explores the rarefied world of the Troisgros family, who have operated their establishment for four generations. He and his cameraman James Bishop observe the restaurant’s owners and workers from multiple perspectives. They catch the place in a moment of transition as long-time proprietors Michel and Marie-Pierre gradually pass the reins to their son Cesar. In the kitchen, the chefs operate like artists in their handling of exquisite dishes. In the dining room, the staff address all guests as “Madame” and “Monsieur.” The place attracts people who care deeply about food, savouring each dish with their eyes, noses, and smartphones.
You may never get to visit La Maison Troisgros yourself, but for the nearly four hours of this film, you can soak up the atmosphere at an unhurried pace. (Synopsis from Thom Powers, Toronto International Film Festival)
“Frederick Wiseman proves again to be the master poet of micro textures that speak to the macro of social infrastructure.” —Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine “The most delicious excuse to spend four hours in a theater has got to be this new doc from the legendary Frederick Wiseman that takes a look at the workings of a family-owned three-Michelin-star restaurant in central France.” —Alison Willmore, New York Magazine “Now into his seventh decade of filmmaking, Wiseman’s ability to weave unlikely cinematic magic from the artistry of process remains in as fine a form as ever.” —Chloe Walker, Paste Magazine “Serenity reigns in Frederick Wiseman’s languidly mesmerising 240-minute anatomy of one of the world’s greatest restaurants… There is palpable respect for the labor and knowledge going into each ephemeral artwork served up here, and — amid Wiseman’s stripped, practical presentation — a hint of romance in its portrait of a family that has turned the elemental act of feeding people into a higher calling.” —Guy Lodge, Variety