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I went to this film because I enjoy cooking and learning about how successful chefs prepare food and run their restaurants. What I saw was a vanity piece that had little to do with either. The movie is divided into seasons, which are virtually indistinguishable and make you wish the year would pass quickly. You'll view many model shots of pere and fils Bras (close-up, distance, various angles) and their restaurants and surrounding countryside, unaccompanied by narrative. In one rare food-related scene the duo are commiserating over a fussy dish as though it were a difficult problem in theoretical physics. The film has a staged quality lacking in naturalness and spontaneity. It should not have been released commercially and should be reserved for viewing by the Bras family and friends and potential investors in their enterprises.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As a culinary professional I think this movie was a great insight into
the Restaurant Bras. It is well known that Michel derives much of his
inspiration from the natural beauty of the Aubrac region so I think it
is very fitting that there are a variety of landscape shots. I don't
find commentary necessary to appreciate the beauty of a landscape.
I find the scenes of Michel with family also serves to humanize him, taking him off of this pedestal of culinary god and illustrating he is just a normal person with children, grandchildren....and an incredible culinary skill set.
In terms of the focus on food, I think it does an excellent job. It gives insight into menu development and illustrates very well that not every dish a chef puts on his/her menu is always an immediate success and there is always tweaking and perfecting that can be done. There are plenty of shots of dishes in progress and completed dishes with a few kitchen action scenes splashed in.
**Spoiler alert** I think the most poignant scene in the whole film is when Sebastien has prepared a dish for Michel to taste at their restaurant in Hokkaido and Michel keeps commenting on the visual aspect of it, turning the plate, inspecting it from different angles, all the while poor Sebastien is trying to get him to just taste it, when Sebastien finally says, "Stop looking! Food is for eating." to which Michel replies, "But you look at it first you know." It perfectly illustrates the different values and philosophies the two chefs have regarding food.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film, though I had already watched Paul DaCoste's previous film about Chef Bras, so I was sort of prepared for something a little slower. Also, as a professional I was able to glean some tips and of course inspiration. I would not recommend this film to someone who has no interest in food. For anyone who wants some insight into one of the greatest restaurants in the world though, it is truly a gem.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was originally going to be a response to bighalsy, but I thought
since I had a lot to say, it might work better as a review, so here it
is. In relation to bighalsy's mention of Food Network, I doubt anyone
who likes the Food Network (and I do not) would enjoy this film any
more than I did. While my review is largely negative, the film did not
put me to sleep, and I did get to see some interesting food, so that's
why I gave it a 6.
This film conveys next to nothing about designing recipes, running a kitchen, or indeed running a whole restaurant. Don't get me wrong, there are a few brief minutes of interesting footage of concoctions you will never see anywhere else. But that's it, unless you are really, really, really interested in peeling back the skin from heated milk and other such liquids. They nailed that, so you'll be a pro after watching this. But if someone tries to tell me that's a metaphor for the handing off of the restaurant, ... please just don't.
Worse, the film conveys next to nothing about the Bras family, unless they truly are that dull and boring and 2-dimensional. I don't believe it.
There are some moments where you can tell the filmmakers are really trying to make an emotional climax, like when the elder Bras is at the beach, again in denial about the end of his career, but it just doesn't work. It feels fake, because after that scene, everything just keeps going on.
Nobody changes or grows in this film. Seasons pass. It means nothing.
It's so infuriating, because the opportunity to make a great film was right there. Forget the family, but the food would have made a wonderful film. How do they create some of these unusual foods from scratch? How do they select the placement on the plate? How do they select the ingredients, as freshness varies throughout the year? How are reservations made? Who sits at which table? What is the layout of the restaurant, and how is it used? Opportunities to discover and learn are endless.
There are some people who are named by printing their names at the bottom centre of the screen. Whoever decided this was a good idea neglected to consider what would happen when subtitles need to use that space. To avoid overlap, sometimes the subtitles became supertitles. In my theatre that meant they weren't visible at all, because the top portion of the film was off the top of the screen. It was a trifecta of poor planning on the part of filmmakers, subtitler, and projectionist.
Now, for those who want to see a film about father and son chefs, I recommend Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011). That film is exciting, and packed with information about the food, the restaurants, and the men running each. I didn't even like them, but I like the film about them. That's one way to know it's a good film.
"Step Up To The Plate" ("Entre les Bras") is a documentary about the
handing over, gradually, of the reigns of Michel Bras' restaurant over
to his son, Sebastian. For the most part, it's a simple style film--and
is divided into segments entitled "Spring", "Summer", "Fall" and
"Winter". But, aside from that, there doesn't appear to be a lot of
structure to the film. It simply shows them making dishes and the
father commenting on the son's work.
While I love cooking films like "Mostly Martha", "Babbette's Feast" and "The Big Night", I was amazed how bored I was with "Entre les Bras". Bored....completely. It's because the film seemed very slow and lifeless. It also offered no insight into the Bras and I felt I knew next to nothing about them as a result of the film. Overall, a big letdown.
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