So sloppy it can’t even adequately follow through on cooking its various plot strands to completion, Tasting Menu concerns the dreary goings-on at the closing night of world-renowned chef Mar’s (Vicenta N’dongo) seaside Barcelona restaurant.
There, a motley collection of guests engage in lifeless mini-dramas, from author Rachel’s (Claudia Bassols) reunion with her ex-husband, Marc (Jan Cornet) — a meeting complicated by the surprise arrival of Rachel’s obnoxious editor boyfriend, Danny (Timothy Gibbs) — to a widowed countess (Fionnula Flanagan) showing up with her husband’s urn and involving herself in Rachel and Marc’s affairs, to two Japanese investors (Togo Igawa and Akihiko Serikawa) suffering through the company of a grating Spanish guide (Marta Torné).
What follows are tepid shenanigans involving some comedy-of-miscommunication setups that director Roger Gual fails to develop, as well as a third-act boat-sinking crisis that’s as randomly shoehorned into the proceedings as it is hastily resolved.
Meanwhile, Mar’s supposedly legendary cuisine gets barely any attention, as the film is too busy fixating on the countess’s grandstanding and her banal maxims — in the span of 15 seconds, she somehow manages to state both “There’s nothing more precious than freedom” and “Just follow your heart.”
The result is a mushy concoction that’s not only unfulfilling, it’s gag-worthy.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 16, 2014