Sunday, 10 June 2012
FILM REVIEW: LE CHEF
Icon Film Distribution
Jacky Bonnot (Michael Youn) loves to cook. Unfortunately for Jacky, the kitchens where he works aren't as passionate about the menu as he is, resulting in his regularly being fired from restaurants, cafes and the French equivalent of roadside truck stops.
Holding out for the right cooking job wouldn't be so bad if his partner, Beatrice (Raphaelle Agogue), wasn't expecting their first child, the birth of which will reduce them to a no-income household. So Jacky 'man's up', puts his culinary dreams on hold, and takes a job as a window painter at a nursing home.
Naturally, Jacky gravitates to the nursing home's kitchen where he attempts to enliven the menu for the residents, who are resistant at first to anything new but are slowly won over by the taste sensations being dished up.
As luck would have it, Alexandre Lagarde (Jean Reno), a Parisian celebrity chef with his own TV show and a three-hat restaurant, just happens to be a regular visitor to the nursing home, and upon tasting Jacky's food (a spin on one of Lagarde's own recipes; Jacky idolising the master chef), hires him on a trial basis.
Lagarde's restaurant is up for review from Paris's harshest food critics, and the chef needs something new to impress, both the critics and Stanislas Matter (Julien Boisselier), who owns the restaurant and can't wait for a loss of one of those hats: a demotion will enable Matter to fire Lagarde and hire the 'so hot right now' Brit chef, Cyril Boss (James Gerard), the kind of 'molecular gastronomer' who cooks with beakers and test tubes.
So ensues a mild comedy of misunderstandings and personality clashes, as Jacky attempts to hide his new, unpaid position from Beatrice, whilst simultaneously learning from and educating his idol in a bid to secure both their futures, with Reno and Youn making for an amiable odd couple.
The film's highlight is a comic set piece which sees Lagarde and Jacky go undercover, in Japanese drag, as diners in Cyril's restaurant. Culturally insensitive perhaps, but the sight of Reno and, particularly, Youn (in geisha guise), looking as though they've just come from the dress rehearsal of a community theatre's production of The Mikado, is hilarious.
More a dessert than a main course, Le Chef, directed by Daniel Cohen, is a puff pastry of a film that will neither sate nor spoil your appetite for French fare. It might not pass mustard in the MasterChef kitchen but for those in the mood for a ham and cheese croissant, Le Chef may just hit the spot.