Scott Hicks is a popular Australian director and screenwriter who has directed films such as Heart in Atlantis, Lucky Man, Glitter, and has worked with the best actors in Australia and the United States, including Anthony Hopkins, Sam Shepard and Ethan Hawke . Each of his works is unique, filled with liveliness and special meaning.
In 2007, he directed the romantic comedy Taste of Life, a remake of the German melodrama Martha the Irresistible (2001), which starred Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart and Abigail Breslin. The film grossed $92 million at the box office.
What is the film “Taste of Life” about?
Kate Armstrong is the head chef of a trendy Manhattan restaurant. She superbly manages the kitchen: she coordinates the work of the chefs and prepares fantastic dishes herself. However, with her perfectionism, she intimidates the people around her, including her team and even her boss, Paulo. One day, Paula breaks down and sends Kate to a psychotherapist.
At the same time, Kate’s sister, Christina, dies in a car accident. She leaves behind a young nine-year-old daughter named Zoe. Kate takes her to live with her, as the girl has no one else. Armstrong is in grief over the death of his sister, and therefore Paula hires a sous chef, a cheerful Nick Palmer, to help her in the kitchen. He is a rising culinary star and can go to work as a chef if he wants, but he wants to work under Kate’s guidance.
But Kate does not like his style of work: the man likes to listen to opera music while cooking and jokes with the staff. Despite this, Kate is gradually moving closer to Nick. In addition, the sous chef was able to get Zoe out of her depression and made friends with the girl. But one day everything collapses, because Paula invited Nick to become the chef of her restaurant. Kate’s pride is hurt, she brings the relationship to naught, and Nick is about to leave for San Francisco.
In the end, the heroine quits her job at the restaurant and asks Nick to stay. The film ends with Kate, Nick and Zoey opening their family bistro.
The meaning of the film “Taste of Life”
According to producers Kerry Heisen and Sergio Ajero, the meaning of the film is love, celebrating the joy of cooking delicious food. After all, love and food are things familiar to every culture and every nation. The filmmakers tried to rethink the story of “Irresistible Martha” in a new aspect, preserving in the plot what they liked most – love and taste, as well as its heroine – a successful and purposeful chef who disciplined and effectively takes care of her life, and for the life of the restaurant.
The arrival of sous chef Nick changes everything: he is bright, fills the kitchen with the sounds of singing, and the entire staff laughs at his jokes. With his presence in the kitchen, there is a special atmosphere that Kate does not like. After all, for her, as for a woman who has reached a certain level of success and independence in a highly competitive field, Nick is a potential professional threat. In fact, Nick takes the position of sous chef at Kate’s restaurant only because he is a big fan of her culinary arts and wants to learn from her, but she does not see this and does not trust him.
Having a baby in Kate’s life turns everything upside down, and not just emotionally. In the world of a busy chef with a busy schedule, there is no place for kids. The heroine loves her niece, but she absolutely does not know what to do with a child who does not even eat her food. And food is the most important symbol in the film. All communication of the main characters, including seduction, begins with food. This is very noticeable in the case of Zoe, who is crushed by grief and cannot recover from the accident. She takes the spaghetti that Nick offers her, which is a sign that she trusts him. Food in the film is a metaphor for life, vitality and even love.
Food educates Kate, helps to find love and unites with those with whom it was not possible to find a common language before. Food and everything related to it: preparation, exchange, aromas, texture, appearance and taste – all this has a romantic and life-affirming undertone that appears throughout the film’s plot. And it’s not just about what people eat, but how they eat emotionally.
The meaning of the film’s ending
Thanks to the fact that Nick and Zoe became friends, Kate begins to “break down”, she destroys her old beliefs, finds a point of personal growth and finds a new life with her beloved family.
According to Hicks himself, the most important thing in the film is not the plot, but the touching beginnings of human relationships at the most intimate level. This is a heartfelt drama that shows the importance of balance in life: deep and serious emotions with lightheartedness and humor. Including we are talking about the alternation of losses with the acquisition of true love. It is in this balance that most people live their lives.
Hicks, as a director, has always been drawn to stories based on real emotions. Using Kate as an example, he saw an opportunity to show how a person with an extremely ordered life can cope with unexpected events that instantly turn everything upside down. And, most importantly, what needed to be shown was how a person through challenge and misfortune can find love, new goals and a different outlook on life.