One of the few foreign language films your unadventurous grandmother might enjoy, ‘Babette’s Feast’ is a cosy, appetising but ever-so-slightly complacent period tale from 1987. In remotest 19th-century Denmark, a pair of elderly, benevolent Protestant sisters have, through a series of coincidences, acquired a kindhearted French maid. But when Babette (Stéphane Audran) announces her intention to cook a slap-up French feast for the townsfolk, she comes up against a broad streak of local Puritanism.
Dealing gently but considerately with life, love, loneliness, old age, religion and class, ‘Babette’s Feast’ is a philanthropic, aren’t-people-great sort of film, a celebration of fairness and generosity. But this soft focus extends to the characters who, with the exception of our heroine, are fuzzily sketched and forgettable. This is a pleasant but overgenerous and predictable film, so eager to embrace the good in people that it never fully succeeds as drama.