A Matter of Taste
dir. Rapp
Opens Fri Jan 25
Clinton Street Theater

Codependence comes in many levels. For instance, maybe you can't cope without talking to your best friend twice a day. Maybe you can't live without seeing your boyfriend for even a night. In A Matter of Taste, however, codependence is taken to its absolute extreme.

A somewhat directionless man, Nicolas Rivière (played by the daunting Jean-Pierre Lorit) is a temporary waiter at a fancy restaurant frequented by the eccentric millionaire Frédéric Delamont. Mr. Delamont notices the perfection of Nicolas' physique, offers him a sample of his appetizer plate, and asks him to describe the flavors. Nicolas does an impeccable job of detailing the texture and flavors of the rabbit/olive dish, and Mr. Delamont is highly impressed. He then offers Nicolas a job as his personal food taster.

While being a personal taster sounds merely extravagant, the position becomes far more. Mr. Delamont has a wealth of neuroses, the most notable being that he wants his taster to be exactly like him. At first, Nicolas thinks Mr. Delamont is deranged, and he uses him for money and power. Eventually, however, Nicolas becomes trapped in Delamont's lavish lifestyle and mental entanglements.

This compelling, well-paced, and stealthy psychological story is spliced with police interviews of the characters, providing a foreboding element to an already-dark tale. The true genius of the picture, however, is the feeling that you, too, could easily be sucked into Delamont's parasitic trap. He is lonely, wealthy, generous, responsive, and seemingly in love with Nicolas. He is also extremely manipulative, but his neuroses always seem to explain his behavior, convincing you he's naîve and sane when it's obvious he's not.

Just like when your lover has a nervous breakdown, or when your friend acts unreasonably or gets depressed, you want to see Delamont get on the path to normality. But what this film ultimately asks is how much assistance someone should offer--and at what point their "help" begins to sap their own sanity.