“Le Chef” A Nice Helping of Good Comedy (Foreign Film Review)

LECHEF poster art

Nicely written, directed and acted, the movie Le Chef conjures up visions of such films as Ratatouille and the creative Julie & Julia. The very quick witted movie takes food preparation to another level.  While other films have tried and failed, this little indie had me glued to the screen with every scene.  If you enjoy films that create a number of situations that culminate in a wacky finale, then this cute production is perfect for your dinner and a movie night.

Jacky (Michael Youn) has always aspired to be a great chef even though he has had no formal training.  Learning from books and by trial he’s developed his natural ability and instinct. But, Jacky has had a hard time dealing with his boss who cannot come to grips with his style of cooking and how he deals with patrons.  Getting fired was the last thing he wanted with his girlfriend Beatrice (Raphaelle Agogue), being pregnant and due soon, so he starts looking elsewhere for work.

Alexandre Lagarde (Jean Reno)  and Jacky (Michael Youn)  in Le Chef

Alexandre Lagarde (Jean Reno) and Jacky (Michael Youn) in Le Chef

Getting a lead from Beatrice he finds himself painting the window frames at a nursing home.  He constantly offers his ideas to the chefs in the kitchen and the residents are beginning to find their meals being star quality. One resident in particular Paul Matter (Pierre Vernier) has taken a great liking to Jacky. Hold that thought as we continue on in this review.

Jean Reno plays Chef Alexandre Lagarde in Le Chef

Jean Reno plays Chef Alexandre Lagarde in Le Chef

Alexandre Lagarde (Jean Reno) runs Cargo Lagarde a top restaurant in Paris where he has acquired the elite 3 star award for his cooking.  Always coming up with a special menu, the restaurant attracts an upscale crowd that has made the culinary eatery innovating. But, newly appointed director of Le Cargo Stanislas Matter (Julien Boisselier) wants the newest dining technique called molecular cuisine included into Alexandre’s Spring Menu.  Fearful of the new “less is more” food preparation, Alexandre objects to the nouvelle cuisine in favor his traditional which sparks a conflict.  When Alexandre finds out about Jacky’s ability and the two team-up, things start to heat up in the kitchen.

Writer/director Daniel Cohen moves his film along at a fast pace with the introduction of his main characters and the situations that keep piling up.  Working with two more than capable actors, Jean Reno and Michael Youn, he creates an opposites attract situation comedy. Although the two characters they portray disagree about many things, the one thing in common is making good food.  Adding the stimulus of “molecular cuisine” vs traditional, something they both abhor, brings the two together in an attempt to defend France’s most famous delicacy, the chef.

Jacky (Michael Youn) snifs one of his creations

Jacky (Michael Youn) snifs one of his creations

Michael Youn brings a lot of comedy with his mannerisms and delivery reminding me of the foreign greats like Roberto Benigni and Peter Sellers.  Not over the top like the two aforementioned, but with expressions and gestures that bring out the comedy from within. He makes his Jacky quirky yet endearing, a real audience pleaser while he makes his attempt to get out of the hole he’s digging for himself.  He’s like every man who wants to succeed in something he loves and it comes across brilliantly on the big screen.

Jean Reno (The Professional) turns his comic side to the camera and proves he’s also splendid at that genre. In the 80 plus titles he’s acted in most have been of a violent and dramatic nature.  Here he shows his ability to deliver a dead pan comedy that becomes very funny as he creates his character from the humorous script by Director Daniel Cohen.  His Alexandre has been put on the spot to decide whether he will comply with something he detests in order to keep his position and must find a way to change the tide.  Reno digs deep and comes up with a clever character that turns his conflict into laughter and making the script work.

Le Chef has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for brief strong language.  The film is shown in French with English subtitles.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very creative light hearted fare with comedy as the main course. (B)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Jean Reno, Michael Youn, Raphaelle Agogue, Julien Boisselier
Directed by: Daniel Cohen
Genre: Comedy
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language
Running Time: 1 hr 25 min
Release Date: June 27, 2014
Distributed by: Cohen Media Group
OPENS in California at the following movie theaters: (Call theater for show time)

July 4, 2014 at Landmark Opera Plaza, San Francisco, CA
July 11, 2014 at Cinema 3, San Jose, CA
July 11, 2014 at Landmark Hillcrest, San Diego, CA
July 26, 2014 at Laemmle Royal, Los Angeles, CA



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