Are you a foodie and a movie buff? Check out these Six Amazing Movies about food, love and life
Eating food is a nourishing activity. From the meals themselves, to the people we share them with, and the stories we learn along the way — each aspect of enjoying food leads to an enriching experience. Though the act of eating is one we perform every single day, there is always something new for us to learn about food. And when we’re not eating food or daydreaming about it, we’re likely watching it on-screen.
In general, we love hearing tables groaning under the weight of full plates and we relish learning about what makes the chefs tick. While compiling this list of some of the best food films, what struck me was that none of them was simply about food. Though food is at the heart of these stories, it is intertwined with dreams, cultures, families, communities, and other vital parts of life.
With that in mind, here are six must-watch films about food:-
Director: Ang Lee
Starring: Sihung Lung, Kuei-Mei Yang, Chien-Lien Wu, Yu-Wen Wang, Winston Chao
Food is a means to bridge unspoken yet visceral gaps in this unbeatable Ang Lee flick. Once tight-knit, the Chu family is now full of tension, with three daughters leading largely separate lives from each other as well as from their father, an elderly chef who’s lost his sense of taste.
Substantial moments of interaction take place every Sunday during elaborate dinners that have turned into an awkward obligation. Though the sisters tiptoe around their father, they rely on his food to maintain some semblance of togetherness. You can feel the intimacy food creates between various characters — be it the youngest bonding with her love interest over steaming bowls of noodles and fermented tofu, the middle child making a lavish meal for an ex-boyfriend who couldn’t commit, or Mr. Chu bringing a fancy school lunch to the young daughter of a family friend. Each frame has been shot with the utmost care, making you feel like you’re right there with the Chu family, hoping that things will work out.
Director: Ritesh Batra
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bharati Achrekar, Nakul Vaid
Young housewife Ila Sehgal sends elaborate lunches to her indifferent husband via Mumbai’s dabbawalas, hoping that the way to his heart is indeed his stomach. However, due to a mix-up, Ila’s lunchbox finds its way to Saajan Fernandes, a middle-aged widower set to retire from his accountant job. A friendship blossoms between Ila and Saajan as they send each other handwritten notes through the lunchbox, opening up about their loneliness and dissatisfaction with life.
There is nothing as comforting as a home-cooked meal, especially one that is made just for you. As I watch, I am reminded that my favourite part of school was always recess, when my friends and I eagerly tore into our tiffins to see what we had received and (maybe) to share. Back then, I never stopped to consider the care that my mom put into each meal regardless of how busy she was. Through the roti, sabzi, and sincere honesty exchanged between Ila and Saajan,
The Lunchbox pays deep respect to both sides of this ordinary yet cherished experience.
Director: Nora Ephron
Starring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina
Separated by about fifty years and 6000 km, Julia Child and Julie Powell share a zeal for food, a solace that always helps them move along when nothing else feels certain. Where Julia ponders how to spend her time abroad in Paris, Julie seeks purpose after long days at a Manhattan job she hates. Encouraged by their husbands to do what they love, Julia decides to learn how to cook and Julie pledges to make every single recipe from Julia’s cookbook in one year.
The film celebrates the preparation of mouth-watering dishes and the journey of pursuing one’s passion despite sometimes wondering, “What was I thinking?” This sense of exasperation is natural and all too relatable for those of us struggling with our creative processes as we chase successes that seem elusive. Through all the moments spent crying in the kitchen or being belittled by French cooks, unsupportive loved ones, and worst of all: themselves, both Julie and Julia remind viewers to keep creating even when we’re faced with the fear of failure.
Director: Juzo Itami
Starring: Nobuko Miyamoto, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ken Watanabe, Koji Yakusho
In this cult classic, a satirical cartoon meets a “noodle western” (a phrase coined by Itami). The story begins when two truck drivers, Gorō and Gun, take shelter from the rain at Lai Lai, a rundown roadside ramen shop.
The first thing that will strike your fancy about Tampopo is that food is talked about as if it is a living being. Gorō has been taught not only how to make ramen, but also how to show each ingredient affection and respect before digging in. He shares this knowledge with the dedicated owner Tampopo, who will go the extra mile to make sure people love her dishes enough to down their entire bowls. Though her shop is the focus of this story, the wacky and fun subplots show love for food in their unique ways. The sharp comedy, fourth wall breaks, and attention to detail in each dish will undoubtedly reel you in, leaving you eager for your own pair of chopsticks alongside a hearty serving of noodle soup.
Directors: Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott
Starring: Tony Shalhoub, Stanley Tucci, Minnie Driver, Ian Holm, Isabella RosselliniPrimo and Secondo, two immigrant brothers from Italy, run a failing restaurant called Paradise in 1950s New Jersey. In a last-ditch attempt to get their name out there, Secondo seeks the help of a competitor who invites a famous Italian-American musician to a lavish feast at the restaurant. Throughout the film, we see the brothers butting heads over how authentic their food can afford to be, their varying abilities to assimilate, and the lengths they are each willing to go to become successful.
In Big Night, food is a labor of love and a reflection of the brothers’ efforts to make sense of their identities in a new land. Genius chef Primo is fighting the pressure to Americanize his recipes, pouring all his heart into bringing the food to life while Secondo uses his business savvy to save their restaurant and to take care of the few customers they have. Though it might feel like someone took a tape and divided the restaurant into two parts, it is clear that both brothers are essential to the harmony within Paradise.
Director: Lasse Hallström
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Victoire Thivisol, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Johnny Depp
If you still have space in your dessert stomach, Chocolat is the way to go. As the North Wind blows, it takes Vianne Rocher and her young daughter Anouk across Europe. They find themselves in Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, a small French village that is unwelcoming to the unmarried stranger and her child.
Led by the mayor, the town is home to troubled relationships, bigotry towards outsiders, and tensions between conservatism and new ideas. To them, Vianne is disrespectful for opening a chocolaterie during the solemn Catholic Lenten season. But Vianne has ways of making the most of situations that aren’t so sweet, and as time goes on, people are drawn to her delicious confections — spiced hot chocolate, rich truffles, cream-filled bonbons, and more — as well as her uncanny ability to read people and her earnestness to befriend them. In this whimsical tale, Vianne’s wish to live life fully comes through in her chocolates and eventually extends to the townsfolk, who learn a thing or two about embracing not only their desires but also those who are different from them.
If your appetite isn’t satiated yet, below are five more honourable mentions worth checking out:-
- Babette’s Feast (1987)
- Like Water for Chocolate (1992)
- Ratatouille (2007)
- Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
- Axone (2019)
If you’re more of a TV show person, be sure to check out our previous list, 10 Food Shows to Fill You Up During Lockdown.