After several successes in cinema and theater, Agnès Jaoui tackles her first production with “Le Goût” des autres. This film, which she co-wrote with Jean-Pierre Bacri, was to be a thriller.
The biggest success of the “Jabac”
Real commercial and critical success when it was released in theaters in March 2000, The taste of Others is the first realization of Agnès Jaoui. Co-written by the “Jabac” (name given by Alain Resnais to the duo Agnès Jaoui / Jean-Pierre Bacri), this comedy-drama tells the story of Castella, a nouveau riche entrepreneur with little culture. Falling in adoration for a theater actress and the text she performs (Berenice de Racine), Castella will try to integrate into this artistic environment of which he does not master all the codes.
After meeting in 1986 on the adaptation of the play The birthday by Harold Pinter directed by Jean-Michel Ribes, the Jaoui-Bacri couple have a series of successes in the theater with the writing of Kitchen and Outbuildings in 1991 and A family resemblance in 1994, then in the cinema with the adaptations of these pieces but also the scenarios of Smoking / No Smoking and D’We know the song produced by Alain Resnais in 1993 and 1997 respectively.
The taste of Others remains Jaoui-Bacri’s biggest box office success with more than 3,800,000 box office admissions and a rave review. To rave reviews were added four Césars in 2001, including that for best film and best screenplay, as well as an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film.
The film had to be a thriller
Throughout their collaboration, the “Jabac” have always liked to impose executives to tell their stories as Agnès Jaoui explains for The Express in 2013 :
When we start to write a screenplay, choosing a genre can help. I remember, for example, that for “We know the song”, having this sung form, proposed by Alain Resnais, was very inspiring. This is the scenario that we wrote with the greatest ease. In the same way, the constraints implied by the adaptation of a play like “Smoking / No smoking”, unity of place, time and action, generated creativity.
So for The taste of Others, Jaoui and Bacri wanted to tackle the thriller. Even if the work is common, she deals more particularly with the narration while he devotes himself to the dialogues. But very quickly they find that they are unable to appropriate the genre, having the feeling of writing “clichés” and nothing “very personal and interesting”. Not knowing people from the police world does not help them:
When we write, we think of people. I can’t write about someone I don’t know.
declares Jaoui in the making-of of Taste of others present on the DVD.
By keeping three characters from the first version of the film (Castella, the bodyguard and the waitress), the duo finally writes a new choral film and returns to their favorite subjects: the class struggle, the cult of success and the law of the strongest. The sociological aspect of the characters has always been important in their work. For We know the song, they wrote biographical sheets for each character, including the smaller roles. The place of origin or the profession thus have an impact on each of the characters.
Jean-Pierre Bacri then takes on the main role of Castella, the entrepreneur and Agnès Jaoui, who must concentrate on her work as a director, plays a more secondary role, that of Mania the waitress.