The Chef's Wife

2014 [FRENCH]

Comedy / Drama

IMDb Rating 5.8 10 501

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Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN


Top cast

Karin Viard as Marithé Bressy

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by hof-4 7 / 10

Subtle comedy

The scenario is a wealthy neighborhood of the city of Orléans. The characters: two fortysomething women, Marithé and Carole. Marithé, separated from her husband years ago, has a son of university age and Carole is the wife of Sam, a famous, Michelin starred chef, and works as the head hostess in his restaurant. That have no children. Marithé teaches classes and works on a one-to-one basis in a center supposed to pair laid off workers with the profession that best suits their skills. There are deft touches of humor here, such as the almost unanimous skepticism of Marithé's class and the weird answers that a badly designed software comes up with. Carole seems dissatisfied with her job, resents living under the shadow of Sam's oversize personality and is is looking aimlessly for a way out.

The plot starts with Carole sneaking in Marithé's skills assessment class and having one-to-one sessions with her to which she is not entitled, as she has a job. An uneasy, twisty relationship between the women begins which seems at times to be (or lead to) friendship, but is tainted by insincerity and manipulation (hence the French title, that could be translated to "We failed at becoming friends."

Script is witty, intelligent and never falls into cliché territory. Excellent acting by Karin Viard (Marithé) and Emmanuelle Devos (Carole). Roschdy Zem (Sam) shows his unfailing excellence although his role is more limited. Direction by Anne Le Ny (who also cowrote the script) is fluid and seamless and the tale keeps your attention from beginning to end. Neither woman's character is very endearing to the viewer (which makes the movie somewhat uninvolving) but this is intentional. A quality film.

Reviewed by ozmirage 9 / 10

Both amusing and memorable

Most English speakers are doubly disadvantaged when they watch French films. We don't understand the language, and we haven't had a strict French education, which ensures that most of the audience has been forced to get familiar with writers like Molière, la Fontaine, Beaumarchais, and Marivaux: all masters of a kind of dry, tart, ironic comedy we just don't have in English. 'The Chef's Wife' (the French title, which means 'We almost got to be friends,' is really on the mark) is in the main line of this tradition.

In a small but upscale country town, the wife of the chef at a fancy Michelin-starred restaurant is suffering mid-life career anxiety. She goes to a harried, fretful but dedicated occupational counselor for advice. So far so good; but both women are suffering from severe delusions about their real problems: the wife is an all-devouring co-dependent, the counselor (a divorcée) thinks she's a just-the-facts person, immune from emotional entanglements. Their collision, two black holes of need spiraling inward on each other, is the comic spine of the movie. At the focus of their orbits is the chef himself, a warm but uncommunicative man, who expresses his love in hors d'oeuvres and amuse-bouches, not in words.

The two women, played by veteran comédiennes with scores of films between them but working together for the first time, are utterly superb. The chef, played by an actor more usually seen with a pistol in his hand than a saucepan, is an ideal figure to engender deceptive fantasies. The rest of the cast, drawn from the seemingly bottomless well of superb French character actors, supports the principals with high honors. And the script, by actor/director Ann le Ny, is a sleek unobtrusive machine for producing awkward encounters and comic misunderstandings. This is French cinema with an accent aïgu: funny, even farcical, but never, never dumb.

Reviewed by safelton_11 8 / 10

Great/almost great French movie

This movie is basically about a love triangle. Nothing unique there, and yet the way it's done is clever, appealing, and not simplistic. What impressed me right away was the way the plot was set up. It was original and the action was not forced as happens in some movies. Two women meet in surprising circumstances: one of the actresses plays a life counselor who tries to help the other lead actress, whom she had thought was happy with her life. The counselor always tries to maintain her professionalism, yet circumstances force changes in their relationship, as well as her meeting the client's husband, and the plot develops from there.

There have been so many movies where food is a character, and so it is with this movie. Yet as with the setup I wrote about above, it's handled in a very "tasty," sensual way; again not unique, but very well done, and blends in with the plot and action very well.

At times the movie is a bit too much of a "chic flick" for me, and also annoying for me was one of the lead actresses frequently shaking her midsection to show off her breasts. Maybe not at the top of anyone's watch list, the movie is well worth watching.

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