Most romantic film #61: Love’s Kitchen (2011)

This is a charming British film, starring Dougray Scott & Claire Forlani as the happy couple: a master chef coming back to life (and the kitchen) after his wife’s death and a food critic.

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So it’s not just about love and romance, but about really, really good food, too. Set in the British countryside.

The film has not gotten great reviews in the US, but I think that’s in large part the lack of “big star name” for American audiences and the gentle pace of the piece. The beginning looks almost like a cooking show, and one has to wait for the eventual unfolding of the plot.

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Chef Rob Haley (Scott) tries to survive after the death of his wife in a car accident (she was phoning and driving–caution!), but is cooking fast food in a joint instead of doing what he loves — creating delicious native cuisine. His daughter and his friends are concerned but unable to help him.

Until he gets bad review on his careless fast food from an anonymous critic. Fired up, Haley finds a run-down pub in the country going for a song and vows to turn it into a successful eating place featuring haute British cuisine.

(Stop here: for those of you wondering, how can native British fare be haute cuisine, swallow your doubts and past experiences. Clearly our chef gets his toque a-blazing with fine tastes and nibbles!)

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Scott and Forlani are a charming couple (married in real life) with a cute script and excellent supporting players, including Simon Callow (Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Cherie Lunghi (The Buccaneers). The film seems to have suffered from Gordon Ramsay’s association, simply because he became the story somehow.

Listen, rom-coms are not rocket science, right? The reviews for LOVE’S KITCHEN make it sound appalling: it isn’t. Neither does it break the mold for the genre. But if you and your honey want to cook a lovely meal and sit down to this sweet film plus, say, CHOCOLAT or LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE or NO RESERVATIONS or JULIA AND JULIE — other cooking or food-oriented romantic films — you’d be well-served (pun intended).

One critic called it “top cinematic comfort food.” Since the chef’s best dish — the one that converts absolutely EVERYBODY who tastes it — is his amazing trifle, that doesn’t sound like bad praise.

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