CHEF – Review by Susan Granger

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

The popularity of movies featuring delectable food perhaps began with “Tom Jones” (1963) and has continued with “Babette’s Feast” (1987), “Like Water for Chocolate” (1992), “Big Night” (1996) and “Ratatouille” (2007), among others. More recently, there’s Jon Favreau’s “Chef” (2014) – which is remarkably similar to this story in plot.

Stern and stubborn Alexandre Lagarde (Jean Reno) is a venerable celebrity chef who may lose control of Cargo Lagarde, his Paris restaurant, because the new CEO/owner Stanislas Matter (Julien Boisselier) thinks his traditional haute-cuisine is old-toque, despite his having earned the eatery’s three Michelin stars. Not only does ruthless Matter start insisting that Legarde use cheaper, chemical-laden ingredients, but he is also seriously considering hiring a young, trendy Spanish chef who specializes in the latest craze of molecular gastronomy. That’s when Alexandre discovers Jacky Bonnot (Michael Youn), a self-taught, aspiring chef whose rebellious and domineering personality gets him fired from job after job. Propelled by his very pregnant girlfriend Beatrice (Raphaelle Agogue), Jacky is ostensibly working as a handyman/painter at a retirement home, while he fulfills his passion by creating innovative meals for its elderly residents. An instinctive, culinary genius, Jacky is fearlessly original in the kitchen and Alexandre is desperate, but they’re such disparate personalities that the question arises: can the two of them work together?

Formulaically scripted as a far-fetched odd-couple farce by director Daniel Cohen, it’s primarily memorable for its cast. Internationally famous for “The Professional,” “Mission Impossible,” “The DaVinci Code,” “La Femme Nikita,” and 2002’s “Jet Lag” (in which he also played a troubled chef), Jean Reno’s comic reactions are reliably appealing, particularly as he tries to relate to his grad student daughter Amandine (Salome Sevenin) and her passion for Russian literature, while comedian/TV personality Michael Youn (“Around the World in 80 Days”) is deliciously quirky. Also on the minus side, it’s rampant with racial/ethnic stereotypes which prove more than a bit disconcerting.

In French with English subtitles, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Le Chef” is a frothy 5, a mildly amusing aperitif.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 0 Flares ×

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.