Dinner party scenes in films are always the greatest of all. The over-table exchanges, the extravagant food, the perverse sexual tension! Some movies wouldn’t be what they are without these meal time moments – Bridget Jones and her infamous blue soup, Pretty Woman and those “slippery little suckers.”
Post-pandemic, many of us have harnessed new joys in home entertaining and subsequently, we find ourselves at the peak of a tablescaping frenzy. Forget agonising over what to cook or what to wear – the real deliberation is simply the table itself. Here we look to the silver screen for some #inpso and delight in tables even more drool-worthy than the food.
Set in Versailles during the French Revolution, Sofia Coppola’s 2006 Marie Antoinette features costume shoes by Manolo Blahnik, Tom Hardy in a wig and some of the most Insta-worthy tablescapes to grace our feeds. Whilst Marie Antoinette and the king famously did not consummate their marriage, they did consume copious amounts of food. Transparent peach jellies displayed on ornate silver platters, edible swan statues, guinea fowl terrines, tiers upon tiers of pastel icing on extravagant cake stands and a myriad of other food so fanciful and delightfully delectable, we’re not entirely sure what it is. Because nothing quite says ‘Let them eat cake!’ like having servants place your napkin on your lap for you.
Let’s be honest, if you saw stills from the big feast in Midsommar, you’d be forgiven thinking it was a friend’s wedding and not a pagan sacrificial horror. Put aside the cannibalism just for a second (wait, hear us out) and let’s concentrate on the table setting here. There’s fresh linen tablecloths, decadent glassware pristinely and symmetrically laid, a smorgasbord of seasonal floral centrepieces, and a matching garland for the guest of honour. For this, we will forgive limbs being served.
THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER
The set design in Peter Greenaway’s 1989 film The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover is, undoubtedly, more memorable than the film itself. A story of passion and hatred, the bold floor-to-ceiling crimson red is gluttonous – sadistic even – and serves as proof of the power of colour (KOIBIRD, much?). As well as a whole lotta red, there’s a medieval-like banquet on display – think candelabras, gothic chalices and platters mounded with uncarved roast meat. Excessive, lavish and a bit grotesque. It wins our vote.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Set in the height of summer in Tuscany, it’s fitting that we see the family dining outside on multiple occasions. Unlike others making our list, the tablescaping isn’t over complicated or over designed. It has an air of nonchalance, as if it were just thrown together. Gingham tablecloths, centrepieces created from garden foliage and vintage earthenware, it perfectly encapsulates the laissez-faire nature of al-fresco European dining. But then, we’re game for any table where a bottle of red and a pot of coffee can coexist in daylight hours.
As far as English period dramas go, Young Victoria steals the crown with its soirée setup. There’s lashings of crisp champagne, tables as long as the eye can see adorned with mountains of candles (reminder: candlelight is key to setting the mood), and it also features some rather arduous and boring speeches from Jim Broadbent. So, the biggest takeaway? Sort out your playlist in advance and for god’s sake, don’t let the chatterbox of the table drink too much.