Tasty, Light, and Flaky
Love’s Kitchen is a breezy, light-hearted British romance kind of in the spirit of Bill Forsyth’s 1980s comedies—though not ultimately as charming or irresistible as Local Hero. Of course, this is director James Hacking’s first stab at a feature-length film, and Forsyth was pretty seasoned by the time he’d hit his stride with Local Hero, Comfort and Joy, and Housekeeping.
Like Forsyth’s films, Hacking’s Kitchen is well stocked with local flavor (in this case, the fictional town of Wooten Dusset) and low-key characterizations. And like Hero, Kitchen features an American character as the wildcard who stirs the pot: Kate Templeton, a food critic (and divorcee) on sabbatical… whose globe-trotting daddy just happens to live in the town where once-promising chef (and widower) Rob Haley proposes to resurrect his low-profile culinary career. Rob’s loyal and quietly quirky crew includes a maitre d’, a waitress, an assistant chef… and a spunkily mild daughter, who instantly bonds with Kate. Sparks naturally fly between Kate and Rob (this is a romantic comedy, after all) before his chocolate gets dipped in her peanut butter, as it were.
It’s not hard figuring out where this film is headed—yet even though the general small-quirky-British-town genre was brilliantly skewered by Hot Fuzz a few back, Hacking still mines it for charm. Granted that I know absolutely nothing about the culinary arts that I didn’t learn from Ratatouille, I had more fun with this food film that I have had with any since Babette’s Feast (excepting Ratatouille)—and given the extreme lowness of this film’s budget (this is not, as widely complained on the Internet by Gordon Ramsay detractors, a “Hollywood film”) I was very pleasantly surprised.
Dougray Scott (who has also worked with Forsythe) is very appealing (and, to the underinformed, at least, convincing) as chef Rob, and I quickly warmed up to Claire Forlani’s rather prickly (and chilly) Kate. Honestly, there’s plenty to complain about with Love’s Kitchen if you go searching (starting with missing apostrophes on the DVD’s menu page, and following through with a very weak subplot involving upper class twits and rodents plus Hacking’s consistent failure to get coverage on sight gags) but for my (literal) money I’d much rather see 200 Kitchens rather than a single Avatar. This promising first film does more with its tiny budget than James Cameron has done since… well, has Cameron ever had to work with a budget this small?
If you can stomach a little schmaltz with your entrée, Love’s Kitchen is a tasty little cinematic treat. Just don’t expect cailles en sarcophage… but you’re not likely to need Rolaids, either.
Love’s Kitchen is unrated, but this is film for adults. Not that there’s anything very racy here, but there’s probably also not a lot that you’d want your kids to emulate, either. Call it PG-13 for suggestive situations.
Courtesy of the film’s distributor, Greg screened a promotional copy of Love’s Kitchen.