Review: Chef (15) - 'an understated delight of a film'
Drama/comedy. Starrign Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Emjay Anthony, Robert Downey Jr. Directed by John Favreau
Anyone who thought the lovely Indian movie The Lunchbox would be hard to beat as the best food-related film of the year (the less said about The Food Guide to Love the better) had better rethink their bets as this low-key charmer gives it a good run for its money.
Writer/director/star Jon Favreau takes time out from delivering Hollywood blockbusters to return to his indie roots with a story that's hardly the most original in the world but eases its way through with consummate ease.
Favreau plays Carl Casper, a one-time hotshot chef who's stuck in something of a rut through the conservatism of his LA restaurant owner (Dustin Hoffman). Following a blazing row with a snooty food blogger (Oliver Platt) that goes viral, Carl loses his job, but his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) persuades him to travel to Miami to restart his career with a food truck provided by her other ex-husband (Robert Downey Jr, paying back Favreau for the first two Iron Man movies) and bond properly with their 10-year-old son Percy (Emjay Anthony).
So, with Percy and former sous-chef Martin (John Leguizamo) in tow, Carl returns to LA via New Orleans and Austin, cooking up a storm along the way. Chef combines the tropes of several movie genres - road trip and father -son bonding chief among them - but is done with such heart that it's impossible to be too sniffy. Above all else it's acted superbly and gives a genuine sense of the love and work that go in to creating great food under difficult circumstances. By the way, make sure you eat well beforehand or you'll be chewing your arm off halfway through this understated delight of a film, such is the way the joy of good food is represented.