Chef | Third Space


Sat 10 May 2014

3.5 out of 5 stars

The restaurant industry is a world of passion, egos, service and sometimes it can be about food. During my brief career in the restaurant industry, I saw enough drama to write the screenplay for multiple films. The professional kitchen has been the stage for many cinematic journeys.
Chef is the latest food adventure from Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Swingers). As the central character and director of the film, he gives us a fresh look into the life and artistry of the culinary world. This is a story of a love for food, a battle of egos, a salvation of a family and a reigniting of a passion for life.

Walking into the cinema...
Ever since seeing Swingers, I have been a Favreau fan. I have looked forward to an original film from him for some time, especially after the disaster of Iron Man 2. To see him get back to his comedic roots made me put this film on my must see list.

Carl Casper (Favreau) is a chef who was on the rise, but success can cause many artists to find themselves in ruts during their careers. Same food, same place and his passion for life is missing. Due to a negative review and his naivety in the realm of social media, he loses his job. Not knowing what next step to take in his career, he finds a new lease on life with an old food truck, support of friends and family and being able to create the food he likes to create. Not since Big Night have I seen such beautiful cinematography involving food on the big screen.
This look into the food industry is interesting, but it is merely a backdrop for the heart of the film. A relationship between a father and a son. The struggles of a successful career man and the mismanagement of his family. I know that this is not an original hook, but this relationship gives the film a soul. Especially his relationship with his son, Percy, played brilliantly by Emjay Anthony (It's Complicated). There were many great cameos and support characters, but a key addition to the film was John Luguizamo (Ice Age). His role as Martin adds spice and flavour to the film. Chef is a road trip film of mending relationships and finding the passion for life again.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film and was drawn into the characters and story line. To have a comedy without the sophomoric style of Seth Rogan and his uninteresting troupe was refreshing. The relationship between Carl and Percy was endearing and drove the film.
A small annoyance of the film was the overt advertisement for Twitter throughout the film. For me it became more of a commentary on our dependence on social media. Leaving you to consider is it a bad or good component of western culture. The film seems to communicate that it is eternally interwoven in our culture and asking is that a bad thing? I will leave that to you to discuss.

The consideration for the family component of the film has an interesting contrast. Carl Casper is a flawed character, but shows potential for growth in his relationship with his son. This is the heart of the film and would cause me to highly recommend this film to anyone. Carl searches for his passion in life, but finds the answer in something more profound and meaningful.
But on the flip side of the family content is the reality of the restaurant atmosphere. It is tough and raw workplace. The language of kitchens throughout the world would cause many sailors to blush. This is a reality of Chef, too. The content of the story includes language that should warrant a caution for younger viewers or people that are easily offended by rough language.

Leaving the cinema...

This is a good film. I enjoyed the conversation afterwards over a nice dinner. The discussion about the film centred-on food, family and especially fatherhood. If you are a foodie, this is a must see film. If you are looking for a refreshing and original comedy, this film is for you. Finally, if you want to see a fun father/son road trip movie, go see Chef.

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