I love when comedies turn into dramas without me even noticing. I felt the slightest pang of disappointment a few minutes into Le Chef, at the fact that it was looking like a romp, and I was thinking the characters wouldn’t develop a great deal. I was wrong. Before I knew it I was completely engaged with these two chefs, who seemed at first to be one-dimensional. And although the laughs just kept on coming, the two central characters raised the experience well above a romp into the realm of pure drama.
Le Chef begins with its central character, accomplished chef Jacky Bonnot (Michael Youn), moving from one job to the next because he can’t tolerate his customer’s choices. His partner, expecting their first child, finally impresses upon him the importance of having stability for the sake of the child, and he takes a job as a painter. His talents, though, are soon recognised by Alexandre Lagarde (Jean Renot), one of the finest celebrity chefs in France, and he leaves another job to take an unpaid internship.
Le Chef is not the best French film I’ve ever seen, but that’s a tough challenge. It lacks some energy at times, but overall, it is hilarious and fully engaging. I wish more films could strike that wonderful balance between what is funny and true characterisation.