‘Le Chef’: a light summer meal of a movie
Seattle Times movie critic grants three stars out of four to “Le Chef,” Daniel Cohen’s cheery French-kitchen comedy.
Seattle Times movie critic
Movie Review ★★★
‘Le Chef,’ with Jean Reno, Michaël Youn, Raphaëlle Agogue, Julien Bousselier. Directed by Daniel Cohen, from a screenplay by Cohen and Olivier Dazat. 85 minutes. Rated PG-13 for brief strong language. Harvard Exit.
At the start of Daniel Cohen’s cheery French comedy “Le Chef,” Jacky (Michaël Youn) is constantly getting fired. A Parisian would-be chef and food savant (he’s sort of the human equivalent of Remy the rat in “Ratatouille”), he’s perpetually correcting the customers’ wine selections and berating them for clueless ordering. (“They wanted their lamb medium!” he protests incredulously to an irate boss, in his defense.) What do we think will happen to the lovably beleaguered Jacky? Will he and star chef Alexandre Legarde (Jean Reno), who meet-cute as Jacky is serving up gourmet food at a retirement home (he was hired to paint the window frames), form an alliance? Will delicious-looking meals be displayed? Will the audience leave hungry? In a word: oui. Also, let it be noted that I’m a sucker for a movie in which somebody says, “Since she left, your sauces are stagnant.”
Lighter than the carrot foam that adorns Jacky’s watercress soup, “Le Chef” won’t win any points for originality, but it’s nonetheless a charming summer-movie trifle at the art house. Youn, who’s got the eloquent eyebrows and elastic face of a classic screen clown, makes a fine foil for the more restrained Reno, whose character is going through his own problems: The nasty corporate owner of Legarde’s restaurant is pressuring him to make changes, and wants to bring in a superstar of molecular gastronomy, who serves things like “free-range chicken ice cubes.” (The scenes that take place in said superstar’s restaurant are a kick: The place has the futuristic look of a very expensive theme-park ride, with computerized voice-overs welcoming the guests, and a dessert menu that features “strawberry éclair in a test tube.”) Eventually, all is sorted out, predictably but tastily. “Le Chef” may not be a masterpiece, but it’s nonetheless a treat.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org