The Film: Confidences trop intimes [Intimate Strangers]
I found the films of Patrice Leconte through Netflix. After watching Man on the Train, Intimate Strangers, and My Best Friend I can solidly state he is an incredibly storyteller. He has quickly become a favorite not only for his directing but for the subject matter, it’s not the fate of the world, but the fate of its characters.
Much like Leconte’s other films, strangers who would never ordinarily meet, are brought together by accident creating a fascinating tale. In the same way it quietly blends its genres, comedy and psychological drama, until it is quite another altogether. A taboo mix of physical humor and Hitchcock-like intrigue which, in the hands of less capable ensemble, might have been disorienting. Instead we are treated to a peeling off of layers, both literally and figuratively, in the classic Leconte style — a nesting box of humanity.
Fabrice Luchini is perfectly cast and the odd scene of his time alone is his apartment made me burst into much needed laughter. It was the moment in the film when I relaxed and started to really enjoy what I was watching. Though it has similarities to his other films the female protagonist, played by Sandrine Bonnaire, gives it a fresh and unique feeling. She’s a wonderful addition to his cannon.
It is not a film for everyone but it treats its audience with a refined, intelligent script and doesn’t apologize for the emotional maturity of its content. The best parts of the film are what happens after the reveal and the ending. The fact that these two pivotal moments are the most pleasurable makes it clear that Leconte knows how to go beyond the concept, beyond the obvious, and really make a film worth digesting.
The Food: Honey Cookies
What a pleasure it is to make food that doesn’t fuss. This is a good old fashioned recipe that is as simple as it seems. Add an ingredient and mix, repeat. The only effort involved is the time it takes to bake the amount of dough as even with the short bake time and the halved recipe, provided below, I had so many cookies it took longer to bake than make.
Because the dough is refrigerated, however, I suppose it might be baked in batches if you needed a break. I also baked one sheet at at time to make sure they baked as evenly as possible but if you’re fairly confident in your oven you could put two sheets in and turn them halfway through.
I left the cookies plain until I find a good icing recipe, I’d like to do something unique. But the cookies are great on their own and offer a flavorful break from the overly sweet treats. The best part of making this recipe is the warm smell which will bring memories of Christmas cookies past, even if you’ve never made this recipe before.
Mix after each ingredient
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening or butter
1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 cup honey
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Add 4 cups by the cupful. After this, switch to a wooden spoon as even modern blenders will have a rough go of it.
4 cups flour
Once you’ve put all 4 cups, add by the 1/4 cup, stirring after each addition, until the texture is like thick biscuit dough. It might be 3/4 to a full cup more. Refrigerate the dough until solid.
Set oven to 350°. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to desired thickness and cut. Place on a sheet sprayed with PAM for baking. The cookies will puff up but hey don’t spread much. Bake 8-12 minutes. Cool on a rack, then ice or frost if desired.
Here are the original measurements for a HUGE batch. Huge. Follow the same directions as above, only switch to hand mixing at about 3 cups of flour.
1 cup sugar
1 cup shortening or butter
1 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 cup honey
4 egg yolks
1 cup hot water
2 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
9 1/4 cup flour