Magazine article Variety

Step Up to the Plate (ENTRE LES BRAS)

Magazine article Variety

Step Up to the Plate (ENTRE LES BRAS)

Article excerpt

FILM SAN FRANCISCO

Step Up to the Plate

ENTRE LES BRAS

Docu - France

A quietly absorbing portrait of the infinitely finicky care that goes into Michelin three-starred French cuisine, "Step Up to the Plate" has the requisite mix of vicarious gastronomica! thrills and relatable human interest to make foodie auds swoon. Coming close on the heels of "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," with which it shares the narrative hook of torch-passing between celebrated father and longtime second-in-command son, Paul Lacoste 's charming docu should have no trouble whetting the appetites of tube and niche-theatrical buyers in various territories. Cinema Guild will roll the pic out theatrically this summer, followed by VOD/DVD release.

Lacoste first profiled Michel Bras years ago for a broadcast series about great Gallic chefs. Now Michel is retiring - slowly, reluctantly - while the culinary world presumably holds its breath to see what happens once his son, Sebastien, takes over in earnest.

Yet most casual viewers will be surprised when, midway through, Sebastien flies to Japan to oversee and instruct at their luxury satellite restaurant there. So intimate is Lacoste's focus, and so modest in demeanor are the protagonists, that this is the first moment we realize the Bras are indeed a very big deal in the microscopically analyzed world of high-end French cooking.

Before that, the film has shown them primarily behind the scenes, making the daily early-morning market pilgrimage, picking wild mushrooms, and drilling staffai their restaurant, spectacularly situated in the mountainous Aubrac region. The opening sequence shows Michel assembling a salad, an enterprise as complex and delicate as a pointillist painting; Sebastien's creation of a new dessert seems as risky and daunting as rocket science. The two men constantly critique and question one another, albeit without rancor, neither seems the type to display temper, and the family business is obviously more a multigenerational passion than an inherited burden. …

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