a tyrannical chef is served the food of love, comic style
In this lively Spanish comedy the life of gay master chef Maxi is thrown into disarray upon the sudden death of his estranged wife Marta, prompting his two children to arrive in his care, as welcome as a rare steak overcooked. A drama queen both in and out of the kitchen, things are about to get a lot heated when his sexy maitre d’ Alejandra, aka Alex, takes a-liking to ex Argentinean footballer Horacio, now turned media commentator, only for Horacio to fall for the man behind the food served on his plate - well you know what they say about the way to a man's heart!
Only with the company books in the red, crazy aide Ramiro about to be let loose in the kitchen, rebellious son Edu having trouble accepting his fathers ‘artistic nature,’ Horacio still in the sporting closet and a Michelin star inspector about to knock on the restaurant door, is this really the right time for Maxi to finally put his personal life before his love of food - or should that be the food of love?
Played for all its worth, this exhilarating comedy of errors has a lot going for it, not least of which is a star turn from Javier Cámara who here excels as tyrannical chef Maxi - is there any other kind? Only it is Lola Dueñas as sassy Alex who gives him a run for his money, shining in the role of an ‘unlucky-in-love’ soul seemingly on hand to secure the culinary and domestic bliss of others.
Sure there are more stereotypes here than what you can throw a formulaic screenwriters’ keyboard at. But the sheer energy of the piece drives it forward, even if some frankly insulting homophobic jokes prevent it from attaining celluloid gold. That said and thankfully into the mix director and co-writer Nacho G Velilla has added a series of poignant ingredients, with such issues as parenthood, family, true love and homophobia, let alone coming out of the sporting closet having been raised as proudly as a soufflé.
For in the end and like many a feature I could name, here Velilla has served up a gay film as family entertainment Almodovaran style and in the process layered his cinematic cake with a non-stop series of laughs. Yes I have concerns over some of the crude and at times downright homophobic comedy to be had, but that aside, this is still a tasty Spanish farce with a host of exuberant, if neurotic characters brought to the screen by a charismatic cast of players. Need more be said?
screened as part of the 23rd London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2009
starring: Javier Cámara, Lola Dueñas, Fernando Tejero, Benjamín Vicuña, Chus Lampreave, Luis Varela, Cristina Marcos, Alexandra Jiménez, Junio Valverde, Alejandra Lorenzo, Mariano Peña,
Fernando Albizu, Carlos Leal, Alberto Jo Lee, Jesús Fuente