Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Step Up To the Plate: Movie Review

Step Up To the Plate: Movie Review


Cast: Michel Bras, Sebastien Bras
Director: Paul Lacoste

Food porn lovers will adore this documentary which takes a peek at the first foodie family of France, the Bras.

In 2009, Michelin star winning chef Michel Bras decided enough was enough and it was time to hand over his restaurant to son Sebastien, who'd been with him for 15 years in the kitchen.

Lacoste charts that succession plan and spends time watching from the sidelines - and what he's captured, while interesting, isn't as gripping as you'd potentially have hoped for - but it's different in some ways. From the start of the doco, the emphasis is clearly on the eye candy of the food and the mouthwatering temptation of the dishes on display.

But, while Lacoste's camera catches the intricate work needed to create one of the 3 Michelin star winning plates, it also reveals the precision and minutiae of the foodie world. Michel is, in some ways, an addict, having spent so long creating and sculpting his dishes as if they were art projects. He even tells his son at one point that a treat he'd prepped was "tasty" and that "he didn't expect that". This is a man whose blood is probably a jus of some sort and whose dedication to culinary excellence makes it hard for his son to step out of his shadow.

Divided up into the seasons of the year, the film captures the essence of what drives exquisite cooks to degrees of eccentricity and charts the relationship between the pair which is one of an extremely patient charge and chrysalis, trying to emerge from the wings and a master who's not ready yet to step away.

Rather than going for overtly over the top and pompous voiceover, Lacoste is happy to let the camera catch the tale of their relationship and in fact, all of their moments catalogue more of a family bond than countless photos and talking heads could ever achieve.

Sumptuously put together but not quite as nourishing as perhaps you'd want if you're not au fait with the subject, this doco is a gentle piece, beautifully shot and with everything needed to tantalise the eyes. It's more of a fly on the wall with subjects who are happy to let the camera sweep around them, than a definitive expose of France's most influential gastronomic family.

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