A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the adults in this movie can be judgemental (sometimes comically so) and that the father of two girls keeps them from experiencing life. During a grand dinner, the teenage server sneaks several gulps of wine. For the feast, Babette imports many live animals and kills them herself, which may disturb vegetarian or sensitive kids.
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What's the story?
What's life without love, great food, and good drink? Pretty gray and solemn -- that is, until French cook Babette (Stephane Audran) comes into the lives of Martina and Philippa, the spinster sisters at the center of BABETTE'S FEAST. The sisters are born to a strict, Puritanical father who's the leader of his own religious sect on the wind-swept shores of 19th century Denmark. Long after he's gone, the women continue to do good works caring for the sick and elderly, and lead his diminutive congregation. But they also continue to deny themselves life -- love and romance are useless emotions and a waste of spirit. Still, they're young and beautiful, and they are tempted -- first by a townsman, then by a charming military officer, and then by a French stage performer. Each time, either they demure or their father rejects the proposals. Once Babette arrives, fleeing the French Revolution, things aren't nearly so dour. She replaces their evening porridge with seasoned soups and fresher fish. She haggles. And when she wins a lottery, she prepares a "real French dinner" for the sisters and their congregants.
Is it any good?
Once the meal is announced, the film really begins to shine. The characters become quirky and bickering. One sister has nightmares about the sin of drinking wine. The rest is a cinematic feast. Like other divine food films, such as Big Night and Chocolat, the food and drink magically lighten spirits and capture the revelry of a truly great meal. But kids are unlikely to get that.
Though the film is short -- just over an hour and a half -- its subtitles and the conspicuous lack of sex appeal of its mostly elderly cast are likely to turn off younger audiences. Only the truly romantic or young gastronomes are likely to have the patience to appreciate this Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film.
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