OK. I know we’re supposed to be discussing restaurants… the real kind, not the ones presented in fictional films. But Gasteau’s, the restaurant in the new Pixar film Ratatouille is simply too good not to mention. Anyone who is fond of the previous Pixar films should know that this second effort by Brad Bird (of the Incredibles) is one of their best films to date. Anyone who is not into seeing kids films should know that Bird’s films skew more towards adults and this one is particularly enjoyable.
Most importantly, the backdrop and texture of the film is provided by food, and specifically life at a high end French restaurant in Paris. Not only is Paris depicted in stunningly beautiful and accurate detail, but this same attention to detail is applied to the visualization of the kitchen, food, and goings on in a professional restaurant. I have no significant experience working in a professional kitchen, but the exposure I’ve had tells me that the details in this film ring very true. Even more importantly in a couple of small segments tackles the issue of describing how food tastes. As anyone who writes about food knows, writing about flavor is like dancing about architecture (to borrow a phrase). If you have visuals (as the film does in heaping amounts) then you can skimp on finding other ways to describe a dish. But not only does the movie spend time describing food beautifully, they came up with an abstract visual metaphor for flavor that does as good a job as anything I’ve seen explaining how to taste things to people who don’t usually take the time. And the film even acknowledges that not everyone will be able to taste their food that way.
There’s even a point in the movie where the fine art of reinterpreting a dish while respecting it is articulated with incredible detail and accuracy. I don’t know if it’s Bird himself, or someone else on the Ratatouille team, but somebody there had a deep understanding and appreciation for excellent food and the restaurant experience. They’ve expressed their perspective in loving and entertaining terms in the form of Pixar’s latest film. I’m thinking of seeing it again.