I don’t watch as many movies as I would like. It seems there’s always an excellent excuse – I need the proper time to really give it the attention it deserves – I must finish this absorbing book first – I want to wait until Spouse and I can watch it together – Consequently my Netflix Queue and DVD basket runneth over. But give me a movie that combines luscious food with a great sound track and the excuses disappear!
I have watched Jon Favreau’s Chef twice now. I first saw it when it was in the theatre and I liked it so much that as soon as it was released on Amazon Prime I bought it. It is one of my favorite movies in a long time. The casting is delicious (Favreau, John Leguizamo, Robert Downey Jr. Sophia Vergara and Scarlett Johanson) and the story is an engrossing mix of road movie and unconventional love story. Actually, it’s three love stories; the story of a man falling back in love with his vocation while he falls in love with fatherhood and rediscovers his love for the woman he left behind. This last part of the story is told so skillfully and subtly you don’t even realize you’re rooting for it to happen till the very end.
And then there’s the FOOD! This is not a film for dieters. The scene where Favreau’s character makes a grilled cheese sandwich is enough to reduce me to tears of lust. This is the ultimate in food porn. Brisket, carne asada, beignets, a whole continent’s worth of delicacies filmed in such loving detail your taste buds beg for a bite. The filmmaker’s passion for food illuminates every shot. There are no debates here about what we should or shouldn’t be eating just pure joy in the power that good food has to nourish us and connect us to our past and present experiences. I’ve always felt that if there were less shame involved in eating and more emphasis on the pleasure that truly good food brings, and how it connects us to our fellow humans there would be fewer eating disorders, but that’s a thought for another post.
The music, curated by Mathieu Schreyer, provides the perfect punctuation to the story. Interesting and always perfectly on point, it helps move the story along, and adroitly illustrates the changing locales. A soundtrack that is a blend of the new, the old and the old done in a new way gets me every time. It was not enough for me to listen to the officially released soundtrack, I had to look up each musician who contributed a track and listen to more. I even listened to all the available back episodes of Schreyer’s show on LA’s KCRW. There is a fine art to creating a soundtrack that captures and enhances the story without distracting from it, and Schreyer has certainly mastered it.