View “world” – not to be missed
It’s the last Friday before Christmas, the busiest night of the year, and there’s no more turbot. The chef of a gourmet restaurant in London forgot to place an order, it’s bad luck. Seeing him paralyzed in the courtyard of his establishment, his legs made of cotton wool, his mouth squishy, his eyes glassy, how could he not think of his French counterpart, Vatel, who committed suicide in 1671 due to trouble with tides and fish dishes?
Having received only two baskets of peaches out of a hundred orders, the servant of Nicholas Fouquet, ashamed of not being able to feed three thousand guests from the feasts given to Louis XIV, went up to his room and threw himself on his sword. Having become an icon of French culinary excellence, she inaugurated the global history of chef suicide, the most recent infamous example of this being French-American Anthony Bourdain.
Chef (where boiling point, a very apt nickname used in Anglo-Saxon countries) narrates the intense pressure put on leaders, in this case Andy Jones, a forty-year-old star, who tries to stay on course despite his drug and alcohol addiction, during Nightmare Service. Filmed in sequence (real smooth digital), it leaves him no respite, between quality control costing his work two points after abusing a vegetable trough to the vociferous delicacy of the client.
Thirty-seven actors and a hundred extras to choreograph on a 360-degree set, assistant directors disguised as waiters with a headset, only four take… The undeniable artistic performance of this fat-free movie makes the story devilishly effective. Throughout this hour and a half immersion, little bubbles seem ready to burst on the walls of this large and seemingly elegant pot. Among others: a low-paid second, a poorly trained intern, a belated intern waitress, a not-so-serious dishwasher and room manager, a dad-girl, torn between the demands of the room and the capabilities of the kitchen, who ends up swallowing his tyrannical penchant for the toilet, the restaurant’s only quiet corner.
British director Philip Barantini’s big idea, 41 (also actor, appeared on the HBO series Chernobyl, 2019), is to distinguish between the kitchen and dining room as little as possible, avoiding caricature and the projected face-to-face between the scenes and the show. By placing the two in an open space, subject to the same sound and light systems, respectively muted and dim, this merging of tables and fireplaces has the effect of giving a clear and somewhat sensitive idea of the chain interactions that lead characters to find one side finds itself embroiled in a collective tragedy.
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