Danish director Christoffer Boe serves up many slices of life in ‘A Taste of Hunger’

Katrine Greis-Rosenthal and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in the new Danish film, A Taste of Hunger.
Katrine Greis-Rosenthal and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in the new Danish film, A Taste of Hunger. Pic credit: Henrik-Ohsten./Magnolia Pictures.

Christoffer Boe was well aware of the impressive body of work of Nikolaj Coster Waldau when he chose the actor for the Danish director’s latest movie that was co-written by Boe and Tobias Lindholm.

A Taste of Hunger from Magnolia Pictures stars Nikolaj and Katrine Greis-Rosenthal as a power couple within the Danish gourmet scene who runs a popular restaurant called Malus in Copenhagen.

This couple is willing to sacrifice everything — even their family life — to achieve their dream of getting a coveted Michelin star.

During his time at the National Film School of Denmark, Boe directed a trilogy of short films, Obsession (1999), Virginity (2000), and Anxiety (2001), the same year as his graduation. He readily admits that he became obsessed with movies and focused on making the best cinematic experiences possible.

Boe is also the noted director of the films Reconstruction (2003), Beast (2011), and Sex, Drugs, and Taxation (2013).

“If it’s the right movie for you, and I’ve had this experience with other movies, it’s finding a sensibility, a way of looking at life that when you see it, it makes you appreciate life,” Boe exclusively explained to Monsters and Critics.

Monsters & Critics: Christoffer, why did you feel that Nikolaj, your leading man was right for this movie? Was it his riveting role on Game of Thrones?

Christoffer Boe: I think I’ve seen most of what Nikolaj has done, and obviously I’ve followed his career. He might be a bit older than me even though he probably looks younger than me. In my view, he really evolved as an actor and I’ve just become really interested in how he also is really an actor’s actor.

I know that he really loves his craft. I just had immense respect for him, and I just made a ton of movies and series in Denmark, so I basically worked with what I feel are all the really great actors living in Denmark.

I was just really intrigued about this great actor. I really enjoyed his work. I felt that he has really evolved over the years because I can definitely see the maturity and complication to what he does now compared to when he was a younger actor, which really intrigued me. I talked to him on a Friday, and by Sunday, we agreed we should make the movie. It was very easy. So, fortunately, it was quite easy.

M&C: I see so many metaphors; food as a metaphor for life and also the many marriage metaphors. 

Christoffer Boe: Yes, there are many metaphors.

M&C: What did you learn about yourself from making A Taste of Hunger?

Christoffer Boe: Well, what I learned about myself is that most of us are very defined by the relationships that we are engaged in. Obviously, my relationship with my wife and our kids, it’s not the material, but it’s reflected in this kind of work because of the struggles that we have as couples. We want to be ambitious, we want to have affection. We know what the good life is when it’s a struggle to get it—appreciating the fact that just making a relationship is actually quite an accomplishment.

I think on different days there was a necessity to relationships that make them something very different. Now relationships, it’s a struggle to make them succeed. I think that’s sort of an appreciation of something.  

I tried to make a movie that it’s basically an appreciation or declaration of love to the effect of modern relationships. That it’s almost impossible like the humble bee, that it should be able to fly. But it does fly, and I think that’s quite amazing.

Danish director Christoffer Boe on the set of his new film, A Taste of Hunger
Danish director Christoffer Boe on the set of his new film, A Taste of Hunger. Pic credit: Magnolia Pictures.

M&C: What did you learn about your craft from making this movie?

Christoffer Boe: About the craft, I tried to be quite ambitious with how we dealt with cameras and settings and stuff like that. We wanted to do something that was very aesthetically pleasing. I wanted to make a very beautiful movie about something very basic. Just two people, they meet up, they get kids, and they have problems.

You’ve seen the movie before, but hopefully there’s a way that we look at them and a way that we deal with them that it becomes something that hopefully for some people something very interesting to watch.

M&C: How does A Taste of Hunger fit in with your overall body of work?

Christoffer Boe: I have no idea. I think I started out making really art-house movies that very few saw, even fewer actually understood. They had no idea what the hell those movies were about. I had a period when the movies became smaller and smaller. I think people were more and more intrigued about what the f**k are you doing with these movies?  

And then suddenly I changed, and I wanted to do something that was much less neutral and basic, and I’ve suddenly found a bigger audience with TV series and some crime movies.

For this movie, I tried to combine a very basic story with something that connects with people, has a broader appeal but still looks an interesting way. I think that’s always when you’re in this middle area where you love and appreciate art-house movies, and you also have great respect for genre movies, you want to try to combine these elements. 

The sensibility of art house, the aesthetics, and at the same time, you want to try something that has some kind of broad appeal that finds an audience. I’ve made movies that had basically no audience. It’s not that fun.

M&C: Do you have a definition of success that resonates with this movie?

Christoffer Boe: I think it’s very difficult. In the end, success is having a happy life, but you often define your success as achieving a goal. But something I really struggle about, we struggle, and we try, and some guy doing nothing might be happier. Yeah. No, I think it’s very difficult. My short answer on that would be I have not found a formula for success, but I’m still looking.

M&C: Talk about the food and food styling that went into making the movie. There were many elaborate food senses. Who’s doing that? How do you get your actors to learn that?

Christoffer Boe: There were two very important collaborations I had on this. The art director, Nikolaj Danielsen, who I worked with previously and had made a ton of work with. He designed the overall setting of the restaurants and did all the production design of the movie, but he had also had a restaurant himself. And a close collaboration with him is the chef Bo Lindegaard who became attached to the movie and we designed together with the menus and the food. 

Because obviously there’s sort of a bigger story to tell and both a recognition about where food comes from and the ingredients in northern food and stuff, there were all these kinds of elements and we wanted to acknowledge. Also, there are some aesthetics to it that should feel right to the kind of movie that we made. Bo Lindegaard set the menu and he was on set making the food that we had to eat. So that was a very big part of it.

M&C: Are you a foodie?

Christoffer Boe:  I enjoy food. I have a great appreciation of high-end restaurants in the sense of the work they put into it. But I’m also a workaholic with three kids, so I don’t get out a lot. I enjoy reading, although I don’t always get to enjoy the food.

Katrine Greis-Rosenthal and Nikolaj-Coster-Waldau as huusband and wife in the movie, A Taste of Hunger.
Katrine Greis-Rosenthal and Nikolaj-Coster-Waldau as huusband and wife in the movie, A Taste of Hunger. Pic credit: Henrik-Ohsten/Magnolia Pictures.

M&C: Do you know what’s next project-wise?

Christoffer Boe: I’m filming a TV series, the final season of something that I’ve done previously. So that’s my next, it’s a TV series.

M&C: Are there one or two life lessons that you want your children as they find their own way in life that you want them to learn?

Christoffer Boe: I wish I had a very simple lesson to teach my kids. I think my problem is I want them to be very ambitious, and I want them to grab for life. I love people who want life and are ambitious. On the same end, I want them to be happy and settle down. It’s always a balancing act….

M&C: Why do you want my readers to see this movie?

Christoffer Boe: I think that it’s a very basic movie but I think that sometimes these basic movies are about something that is very simple about human relationships and the struggle that goes into it if it is the right movie for you, it makes you appreciate what life is. If it’s not the right movie for you, it’s going to bore the death out of you. It is a Danish movie.

I think that’s my basic interest in this, that it started out as an interest in why are people leaving each other? Why are they getting divorced? And it ended up through the years of becoming an appreciation or a declaration of love to the fact that we have relationships and the struggle and the complications of having these relationships.

A Taste of Hunger poster
Pic credit: Magnolia Pictures

From Magnolia Pictures, A Taste of Hunger will be released on Friday, Jan. 28.

For more new films check out, Why Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem are so smitten with ‘I Love Lucy’

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