Review: ‘Le Chef’ (M) ★★

JACKY (Michael Youn) loves to cook but can’t hold a job at fast food places where he tries to lift the standard.

He has worshipped at the altar of Alexandre (Jean Reno), whose three-star restaurant Lagarde on a prime Paris location is part of an international restaurant chain run by the Matter family whose CEO tells Alexandre that the critics are coming to review him and he will get the boot if they remove a single toque from his rating.

Writer/director Daniel Cohen’s satire of the foodie ethos hangs from that dramatic thread. That’s no bad concept, given that objective evaluation by the media of such an ephemera has an unreliable and easily-corruptible base. Cohen sets up an uncomfortable relationship between Jacky and Alexandre who each have an overweening notion of their abilities. Jacky’s pregnant partner has told him to get a permanent job or she’ll leave him. Alexandre has been neglecting his daughter who’s about to face the assessors for her PhD thesis.

All this hurtles along at a good pace. Not all of its potshots at restaurant shibboleths hit the mark. The best happens when the markets refuse to supply Lagarde until it pays its bills and Jacky leads his crew into the neighbourhood corner store to stock up.

Alas, this ill-written variation of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” lacks coherence and credibility. I wanted to admire it more than I found myself able.


At Greater Union and Dendy

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