NOTE: Here is my review from Soda & Telepaths that was posted back on September 28, 2021
The Taste Of Desire is a film about the most sensual of all foods… the oyster. Using the oyster as a starting point, The Taste Of Desire tells the story of 5 different people who are all in some way aligned with the oyster, either by selling them, cooking them, studying them or dressing like them in a burlesque routine. As the film goes on, we learn about their desires, needs and what scares them. Slowly their lives are unfolded before us, explored as much as can be done in a 90-minute runtime.
On the surface, The Taste Of Desire has some really good ideas. For starters just using the humble oyster as a way to link up these wildly disparate lives is a great little bit of connective tissue that makes it very easy to slip back and forth between each story, they (mostly) feel like they all belong together so it doesn’t require that much mental strain when we go from the story of the terminally ill psychologist working on a book about oysters to the story of the woman who gave up everything to become an oyster diver. These stories, different as they may sound, link up surprisingly easy thanks to that connection.
Each story told is genuinely fascinating, to the point where you could just have each story as its own documentary. The story of the burlesque dancer who tries to make her career work while also being a mother? That’s a feature film in itself, as is the terminally ill psychologist (seriously, his story might be the most interesting of the bunch which is not something I thought I would say about a psychologist). They all have such fascinating stories that you end up wanting to know more about everyone involved, which is always a good sign.
The catch is that with about 5 stories being told at the same time in around 90 minutes, that’s not long for each of the main tales (and even less when you realise they’re all being connected by little Oyster visuals). It almost feels like the filmmakers just couldn’t hold back and put as many stories in the film as possible to cover for its really big problem… which is that this film is surprisingly unsexy.
Considering The Taste Of Desire is a film about oysters, using them as a metaphor for passion, it’s stunning how little passion you feel throughout the film. Sometimes you get hints of it, like through the scenes with the oyster diver who gave up everything to do this job, but for the most part, it’s just very slow and droll which can make for a very bland sit.
These are genuinely fascinating people with some genuinely gripping stories but they’re not helped by this presentation, nor are they helped by trying to grab attention when there’s so much else going on. Heck, I haven’t even brought up the chefs or the pearl maker because they just weren’t as interesting as the terminally ill man, the diver and the burlesque dancer.
In general, The Taste Of Desire seems to be an acquired one. Much like the all-important Oyster, some people are going to love this and some are going to hate it but it feels like it’s about halfway to where it should be. While The Taste Of Desire‘s got a lot going for it to make viewing it worthwhile, it’s also got a fair bit that just tastes a little off.
Viewed as part of the FoodxFilm Festival which goes from September 26th until October 3rd