We went to see Good Will Hunting (1997) in the glorious grounds of the Chewton Glen Hotel as part of the Rick Stein endorsed Pop-Up Picture Company tour. Stein talks in a preamble to the film about matching his food with appropriately watchable movies. I suppose my problem with this idea – as a student of Film and a lifelong foodie – is can you really mix the two: film and food?
We were invited to purchase/order any drink we might want beforehand. The hotel, presumably, had chosen a small selection of reasonably priced wines and we chose a white wine as an aperitif and a rose to appear at the intermission. We had been asked to arrive at 7.30 and the film was to begin at 8.15. In the absence of sufficient seating, outside of the tended viewing space, it might have been better to start the film slightly earlier but then people had travelled from all around and so perhaps the three quarters of an hour was actually, very sensible. It was a beautiful warm and sunny evening and so standing chatting, with a cold glass of wine, was not too much of a hardship.
The film duly began as the starters were arriving. Caroline and I had chosen the cold, garlic soup, which was excellent. I was already getting into the film, directed by Gus Van Sant (he of the frame by frame re-make of Psycho fame) I know the film quite well although I haven’t see it for some time. I particularly remember it as having been scripted by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who also star in it, of course. It was a real breakthrough film for them both and their careers have taken off thereafter. Soup, is a simple thing to have in this context. Easy to consume and no need to take one’s eyes off the screen. We were seated at the front, by the way, on comfortable sofas with blankets provided for when it grew dark and the temperature dropped.
Caroline and I then shared a gorgeous fish pie and peas. This too was simple to eat with just a fork as I became more and more absorbed in the film. Robin Williams is riveting as the apparently second-rate university teacher who tries to help the difficult Matt Damon character. The process of winning over this troubled but brilliant soul is captivating an I had finished the fish pie before I knew it – and herein lies the problem. It registered as “gorgeous” certainly and melted in the mouth but I ate it without really noticing it. You could argue that Mr Stein had fulfilled his brief but, in many ways. I would have preferred to enjoy a Rick Stein meal – and we have famously in Padstow – and to watch a film of this quality as two separate treats.
In the interval, the waiting staff came around with ice-creams. They presented them as usherettes did back in the day with a tray slung around their necks. A lovely touch and the ice-cream, by Tom Kerridge, was exquisite.
All in all, this was a truly enjoyable experience – shared with my wife, one of my daughters and her partner – and a memorable time was had by one and all. Applause at the end of a move is rare but always indicative of something special.