Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Family Recipes" Review

The danger of living in some else's shadow is, what if you never get out? That’s a question young chef Hanna (Amy Bloom), has to answer once and for all. Her performance as head chef of her father’s restaurant has been beyond disappointing. Her attempt to forge her own way in the culinary world has backfired. Critics are breaking out the fifty-cent words to come up with new ways to insult her food. Her boss, the new restaurant owner, has had enough. She’s fired. Hanna has one chance to save her career. One dish to turn it all around. To find her inspiration, Hanna has to dig deep, back to the lessons of the man who’s shadow she can’t seem to get out from under, her father. Sometimes finding one’s self means going back to the beginning, remembering some long forgotten “Family Recipes.”

Based on the summary alone, one might expect to find “Family Recipes” sharing a Netflix queue with The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood and Under the Tuscan Sun. But this is SHOCKFEST, baby, so you know there’s more to the story than meets the eye. Hanna’s daddy issues run deep. She needs to be a great chef, she is passionate about food, but she just doesn’t have the talent of her old man. And she never will until she lets go of herself and gets in touch with her roots. And what roots!

Now, this film is filled to the top with spoilers. The reaction of the little girl in the opening scene, the boss saying that Hanna needs to give her customers something they can’t get anywhere else, even the film’s title, for heaven’s sake! Spoilers all. So it was wise of director Cosmos Kiindarius to install several plot twist redundancy systems in “Family Recipes.” I was so busy waiting for the surprises I knew were coming, it left me vulnerable to plot sneak attacks, and there were a few.

The script of “Family Recipes” was well crafted (though the dialogue got a little heavy handed in places) and largely well executed (struggles could have been more realistic). Very film-like quality to the shots. Even the lead actress, Amy Bloom, had that charming vulnerability that romantic comedy fans love so much in their heroines. She was never cold, always emotionally available, pretty, and sweet. When she smiles, no matter what the circumstances, she radiates a warmth that makes a person believe, truly believe, that everything is going to be just fine.

“Family Recipes” is a film for anyone who’s ever wondered if they really have what it takes to become great. It has a lovely mix of shock value and sentimentality that was, in the end, deeply satisfying.

Check out “Family Recipes” this Saturday at SHOCKFEST! 11/7/9 at Cinespace in Hollywood. Go to for tickets.

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