Saturday, May 6, 2017

DVDebut: Anne Le Ny's bouncy, clever employment rom-com, THE CHEF'S WIFE

What a  timely idea for a romantic comedy: a movie that centers around an employment office dedicated to finding jobs for the downsized. Leave it to the French, particularly to the new queen of the cultural-mores-and-social-services movie, Ann Le Ny, to give it to us. Ms Le Ny, who earlier offered up two fine films of this nature -- Those Who Remain and My Father's Guests -- has now added another feather to her cap with this new charmer, THE CHEF'S WIFE.

Le Ny , shown at right, appears to be taking up (somewhat, at least) the mantel of Danièle Thompson, another fine French filmmaker dedicated to rom-coms-cum-social-satire. Here again, as has been her wont so far, she has rounded up an ace cast of French film pros and given them succulent roles to devour. Do they! Le Ny has worked previously with both her leading ladies -- Karin Viard (below, right) and Emmanuelle Devos (below, left) -- so I suspect she understands well the capabilities of each. As writer and director, she uses both actresses in very interesting ways -- they're somewhat different here than I've yet seen them -- and then scrambles things so that eventually, their characters, along with their positions, are cleverly reversed.

In the role of that chef is one of France's enduring icon's Roschdy Zem (below), who, as usual, brings his unique combination of quiet strength, unassuming sexuality and exotic looks to the fore and certainly helps carry this movie.

To go into plot details will give away what really should be a series of smart surprises that the film wittily unveils. Unfortunately, it also eventually partially unravels, as Ms Le NY paints her plot, along with her characters, into a corner, from which the only release becomes a combination of coincidence and rather too obvious plot machinations.

This is too bad because the initial two-thirds of the film comprises first-class stuff: timely, funny and smart. Even with the slight disappointment that accompanies the conclusion, The Chef's Wife is still more fun, more au courant and more original than much of what we see out of Hollywood, either in would-be blockbuster or small independent,

From Distrib Films US, running a sleek 91 minutes, and arriving on DVD in the USA via Icarus Films, the movie hits the street on DVD this coming Tuesday, May 9 -- for purchase and/or rental. Streaming-wise, it's also available via iTunes or Amazon.

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