There’s almost nothing harder to keep your eyes off of than a power couple. They always have this air about them, like they know the effect they have on us all and they like it that way. They are just naturally cooler. We let them be that way and it’s hard to pin down exactly why, other than the sheer force they emit into the world whenever they kiss or touch or look each other’s way. There’s a fire in these bonds we long and strive for and, at the end of the day, humans are masochists. We like to be close to what we can’t have, because it’s an exciting reminder that there is hope for us yet. It’s that impulse that draws you into A Taste of Hunger, a high-octane romantic drama that meshes the power couple archetype with the realities of relationships—and how that informs the price of success in the culinary world.
A Taste of Hunger follows Carsten (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Maggi (Katrine Greis-Rosenthal), who own a trendy and popular high-end restaurant in Copenhagen. One otherwise normal night, the married pair are faced with the gravity of their future when a representative from Michelin—a company who has published guidebooks on excellent restaurants since 1904—is rumored to have attended their dinner service. While attempting to secure at least one coveted Michelin star, secrets about their marriage threaten their ability to push through for the sake of success.
Sounds intense, right? Director Christoffe Boe certainly recognizes the gravity of the story he is presenting us, which gets the audience prepared for the level of high drama to come throughout the film’s 90-plus-minute runtime. He presents this tale like an epic, with a sweeping score and a perfect opening quote to set the scene: “If you ask me what I want, I’ll say I want everything.” This movie is about the quest for the perfect love, the perfect career and the perfect life, and Boe’s choices make it clear that this situation sits close to life or death. We feel the severity.
While the tone does a ton of legwork, the film truly hinges on the two lead performances. In fact, setting up a volatile relationship within the confines of the cutthroat world of luxury restaurants calls for actors who are willing to push themselves and each other, be unabashed in their choices and command attention. Coster-Waldau and Greis-Rosenthal have a fierce chemistry and passion that coats every conversation they have with one another, whether it comes from a place of love or, later, of disdain. They push each other to their limits in nearly every scene, upping the ante with each glance and loaded word. It’s fun to watch them challenge one another as the audience gets clued into how they met, became husband and wife, and fell apart as a couple all amid their love and drive for culinary arts. If it weren’t for how well these two leads work together, this movie probably wouldn’t be worth watching. In fact, Coster-Waldau’s performance as a perfectionist chef is noteworthy in and of itself: There are quite a few actors getting recognition for their pressure-cooker dramatic performances lately—Isabelle Furhman and The Novice come to mind—and the Game of Thrones alum shouldn’t be discounted from that conversation, especially when it comes to the 2022 awards season.
But the film’s biggest asset is the story in which these powerful characters exist. It isn’t necessarily saying anything that hasn’t been said before about the decay of marriage, but the backdrop these conflicts are set in front of makes it interesting. As if relationships couldn’t be chaotic enough, this one is trying to survive under the influence of perfectionism and the taste of success within two people’s life work. There have been many films and TV shows focused on how intense it is to be a chef, own a restaurant or work in a kitchen, from reality to scripted. We know it’s a tough game. That container (the culinary world) makes the contained (the all-too-common exploration of a marriage) actually worth considering a watch. Add in two powerhouse performances and you’ve got yourself a film you shouldn’t miss.
Director: Christoffer Boe
Writer: Christoffer Boe, Tobias Lindholm
Stars: Katrine Greis-Rosenthal, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Charlie Gustafsson, Flora Augusta
Release Date: January 28, 2022
Lex Briscuso is an entertainment, film and culture writer who eats, sleeps, and breathes exceptional horror, sweeping dramas, and top-notch acting. She is a news desk writer at /Film and has bylines at FANGORIA, The Guardian, Shudder’s The Bite and EUPHORIA. Her horror radio show, YOUR NICHE IS DEAD, is live Mondays 5pm ET. She tweets @nikonamerica.