[Film review] The Kitchen Brigade [La brigade]

Review by Michele E. Hawkins.

Cathy (Audrey Lamy) is a brilliant sous chef in the kitchen of the famous Lyna Deletto (Chloé Astor).  But Cathy has a problem: Deletto overrides Cathy’s judgment in the kitchen.  Having had enough, Cathy walks away from her job, but finding another job is harder than she imagined.  Her friend Fatoumata (Fatou Kaba) steps in to help and finds a job for her as chef in a cosy restaurant — which turns out to be the cafeteria of a a shelter for migrants.  It’s hardly a position for a chef of Cathy’s standing.  But the shelter’s director, played by François Cluzet, is obviously good-hearted, and Cathy could not have received a warmer welcome from teacher and all-rounder Sabine (Chantal Neuwirth), and a financial reality check leads her to take the position temporarily, initiating an unexpected life-changing journey by Cathy and the young men in the shelter whom she is now responsible for feeding.

Many of the residents are keen to help in the kitchen — a fortunate thing, as Cathy can’t produce timely meals to her own exacting standards for the number of residents there without help.

Not all the young men initially respond respectfully to Cathy, though, and Cathy is unused to receiving less than professional respect.  So some of her relationships at the shelter get off to a rocky start. 

The Kitchen Brigade treats audiences to a memorable cast of characters: the celebrated but snobby Lyna Deletto; the outspoken and self-confident Fatou; the all-embracingly kind Sabine; the dedicated director; and the fantastic young men who play the roles of the migrants.

The Kitchen Brigade offers a thoughtful look at some of the difficulties migrants face in their quest to escape poverty, violence, and hopelessness and to make better lives for themselves and their families.  The film makes no suggestion that there are easy answers.  Rather, it takes us into the hearts and minds of a group of people just trying their best on both sides of the equation.

A gentle testament to the best of the human spirit and to the power of listening and accepting and getting on with doing whatever we can, The Kitchen Brigade takes on a very real and all-too-common story with a light and engaging touch. 

Screening at Palace cinemas.

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