Film review: Comme un Chef

Still from the film comme un chef

Reviewed by Jen Perry

Edited by Carol Ryles

Film: Comme un Chef
Director: Daniel Cohen
Running time: 84 minutes
Year of release: 2012
Language: French

French food has always been associated with tradition, excellence and above all culinary success. In an industry that is increasingly developing a scientific approach to cuisine, Alexandre Lagardge, a stubborn restaurateur and celebrity chef is lagging behind. If he fails to adapt and update his traditional fare he will lose both his job and prestige. All seems doomed until he meets Jacky Bonnot, an amateur chef with an impressive pallet and passion for creation.

Daniel Cohen’s light-hearted comedy Comme un Chef exploits the nuances of an industry in flux that seeks to balance embracing change against time-honoured conventions.  Jean Renot plays Lagarde with the good humour and stodginess befitting of a man whose celebrity status borders on iconic.

His comedic timing is impeccable and most of the film’s funny moments are due to his deadpan deliveries. In contrast, Michaël Youn plays Bonnot as a bumbling and naïve idiot, unable to keep a job long enough to provide for his pregnant girlfriend. His resemblance both in physical appearance and acting style to a young Steve Martin is uncanny and provides an amusing foil to Lagarde’s uptight disposition.

Unfortunately, not only are the characters flat stereotypes, but the film's plot is predictable from one scene to the next. While there were certainly pockets of laughter throughout the cinema, most were a result of the buddy-cop style physical comedy from the leads and not the witty dialogue.

Comme un Chef is not the most well-written film of the year, nor is it acted well by the cast. Yet it was still an enjoyable night out at the theatre. Not all films are going to uncover hard truths about the human condition; some are just there to entertain. Comme un Chef is unapologetically one of them.

About Jen Perry

Jen is presently completing her Honours year in German at the University of Western Australia, and was on the student-editing committee for Trove; a multimedia creative arts journal from 2010 to 2011.