Kitchen Brigade Image

Kitchen Brigade

By Parker Whitmore | May 2, 2023

A story about choice, independence, and action in the face of uncertainty, Kitchen Brigade is so much more than a film about cooking. And if you simply came to watch people cook, no worries, there’s certainly no shortage in that department either. This eccentric culinary adventure made me put down my notebook long enough to truly savor every aspect of its ninety-minute runtime, and rest assured, it doesn’t disappoint. Directed by French filmmaker Louis-Julien Petit and written by Petit, Liza Benguigui, and Sophie Bensadoun, the film doesn’t explain much beyond its opening premise.

Disgruntled and unsure, sous-chef Cathy Marie (played beautifully by Audrey Lamy) leaves her job at a gourmet restaurant to pursue her dreams of becoming a head chef. In that pursuit, she finds work at a local migrant shelter to discover her passion for cooking is only equaled by a desire to help others. Run by Lorenzo Cardi (François Cluzet) and Sabine (Chantal Neuwirth), the shelter looks to protect young, downtrodden men from being deported out of the country on account of their citizenship. Standard fair, all things considered.

Dropped into the action, we move through the events much like life itself, sporadically and without warning. Yet from sets to costumes to color, each element of Kitchen Brigade works in tandem, like the tenets of a great dish, to deliver one hell of a cinematic experience. Fleshed-out characters and believable relationships make this story sing, while conversational dialogue grounds the film in a realism sorely missed from other titles of the same genre. Cathy slowly begins to enjoy her work, and by teaching the migrant youth to cook, she irreversibly changes their (along with hers) lives in the process.

“…finds work at a local migrant shelter to discover her passion for cooking is only equaled by a desire to help others.”

As a visual journey, the film goes beyond talking heads to use the medium of film for its intended purpose: motion pictures. It’s beautiful. As a lesson in empathy, this movie communicates a long-standing fact of life: make the best of what you have. Fear and rejection are all a part of the journey, and overcoming them happens as much as it does without.

Where it stumbles comes by way of the ending. A few of the initial set-ups and struggles are denied a conclusion, satisfying or not. In a way, though, that could be seen as the point the film is trying so desperately to make. Life is messy, it happens whether we like it or not, and all we can do is hold on for the ride.

Kitchen Brigade tells us to take risks, be brave, and cook like hell along the way. That is if you can cook. If not, just get someone to do it for you and focus on the life stuff instead.

Kitchen Brigade (2023)

Directed: Louis-Julien Petit

Written: Louis-Julien Petit, Liza Benguigui, Sophie Bensadoun

Starring: Audrey Lamy, François Cluzet, Chantal Neuwirth, Fatou Kaba, Yannick Kalombo, Mamadou Koita, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Kitchen Brigade Image

"…Life is messy, it happens whether we like it or not..."

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